Ecuador, Venezuela propose limiting abilities of Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression

The Colombian magazine Semana warned that a proposal backed by the Venezuelan and Ecuadorean governments is aimed at weakening the Organization for American States' (OAS) Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression.

The governments of Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez created a Work Group that has proposed prohibiting the Rapporteur from publishing a separate annual report on the two countries or a longer report than other rapporteurs of the OAS' Inter American Commission on Human Rights. The Colombian magazine explained that such a proposal would weaken the impact and visibility of the Rapporteur's report. What's more, the Work Group also is proposing to prohibit external funding for the Rapporteur office, demanding that the Rapporteur receive the same pay as other rapporteurs. Finally, the Work Group also is calling for a code of conduct that would limit the Rapporteur's actions, including the ability to send out press releases, according to the newspaper La Nación in Costa Rica.

Representatives from countries like Argentina and Brazil (bothered by reports from this Rapporteur) have remained silent on the proposals, while the Colombian ambassador has said the proposals are not that drastic, according to Semana.

The rapporteur office under fire, led by Colombian lawyer Catalina Botero, has received financing from the European Union and other Latin American countries, and has become the "door on which the continent's journalists whose freedom is endangered knock,” Semana reported.

In December, President Correa launched a campaign to discredit the Rapporteur, Catalina Botero, after the publication of a report with criticisms and recommendations about the state of freedom of expression in Ecuador.