Internet Blocking and Censorship by the Maduro Administration. Great Concern about two Venezuelan Websites

Fundación LED (Libertad de Expresión + Democracia) is deeply concerned about the delicate position the media is in in Venezuela given the increasing censorship and blockings imposed by President Maduro´s Administration.

On this occasion, broadcasts by NTN24 and Noticias RCN (two media of Colombia) were interrupted by the Venezuelan Government.

Almost eight months after the NTN24 television signal was taken off air and the Internet domain was blocked, the Colombian chain website was also censored.

According to the director of NTN24.com, Johnattan Bilancieri, not just the Internet website was blocked, but also the mobile platforms and applications. In that respect, he pointed out that the difference between this blocking and previous censorship attempts was that all users were banned access in a highly sophisticated way: indeed, not only were domains affected, but also servers, i.e., all the links of that member of the media.

He pointed out that the users themselves warned them about such censorship in the social networks, and that despite their attempts at contacting the Government, they got no answer.

What makes things worse, according to Bilancieri, is that the Venezuelan body of laws provides for no legal remedy, forcing them to seek out other ways to defeat the blockings.

In this case, censorship was used to stop Venezuelan Citizens from receiving real time information of what was going on in Caracas.  Indeed, it was not just the NTN24 website platform that was blocked. The RCN chain may have also been blocked by the Government.

Restrictions on freedom of expression, encouraged and implemented by a part of the Venezuelan Government, form part of a systematic agenda which we have repeatedly denounced.

In October, 2013, we reported that the Venezuelan Government had restricted the free flow of information (http://www.fundacionled.org/articulos-y-monitoreo/agresion-a-periodistas-y-medios/venezuela-restringe-la-libre circulacion-de-informacion), having alerted the general public to the difficulties faced by anybody in that country trying to convey any message other than the Government´s.

We have also addressed other issues, such as the organization of a strategic center for homeland security and protection (Centro Estratégico de Seguridad y Protección de la Patria (CESPPA,) http://www.fundacionled.org/articulos-y-monitoreo/agresion-a-periodistas-y medios/venezuela-restringe-la-libre-circulacion-de-informacion) , when opposition legislators were refused the floor (http://www.fundacionled.org/informes-y-publicaciones/declaraciones/censuran-a-legisladores-opositores-en-venezuela), or the restrictions on newsprint purchases (http://www.fundacionled.org/articulos-y-monitoreo/agresion-a-periodistas-y-medios/preocupacion-por-la-situacion-de-los-medios-graficos-en-venezuela).

When the Law on Social Responsibility of Radio, Television and Electronic Media (known as “Ley Resorte”) was passed, under which the broadcasting of demonstrations and anything connected with them may be classified as “encouraging violence”, we cautioned that the law was a clear limitation to the exercise of freedom of press in Venezuela.

Shutting down media, judicial persecution of media owners, restrictions on inputs which are necessary to operate and, in particular, violence against the press in Venezuela, are serious violations of the principles safeguarded in current international treaties.

These actions by the Government of Venezuela are regulatory guidelines typical of authoritarian governments that have nothing in common with the democratic values which every society aims at.

We repudiate the Government of Venezuela´s actions, in clear violation of Section 13, par. 3 ,of the AMERICAN CONVENITON ON HUMAN RIGHTS, namely:  “The right of expression may not be restricted by indirect methods or means, such as the abuse of government or private controls over newsprint, radio broadcasting frequencies, or equipment used in the dissemination of information, or by any other means tending to impede the communication and circulation of ideas and opinions.”

At Fundación LED (Libertad de Expresión + Democracia) we shall keep on endeavoring to make visible any events of this kind, which affect our respect for the right of freedom of expression and the full validity of democracy in the region.

30/09/2014

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