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RCTV Shutdown Condemned by European Parliament; Senators Clinton, Obama, and Kennedy

Contact: Thor Halvorssen, Human Rights Foundation, 212-246-8486,


NEW YORK, May 25 /Standard Newswire/ -- In an act that has drawn international condemnation, from the European Parliament to the U.S. Senate, and across Latin America, the Venezuelan government is hours away from shutting down one of the country's leading television stations, RCTV, on May 27, at midnight.


"This is the pinnacle act of censorship in the Venezuelan government's assault on independent media. RCTV will lose its broadcast license as punishment for airing opposition coverage. This is a first in Venezuelan history," said Thor Halvorssen, President of Human Rights Foundation (HRF). "With this, Venezuela's president will cross the dictatorial Rubicon."


In the European Parliament this week, Venezuela's shutdown of RCTV was condemned in a resolution about freedom of speech. The resolution states that non-renewal of the license "will deprive a large section of the public of a pluralist source of information, thus undermining the right of the press to criticize the authorities."


Yesterday, the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations unanimously passed Resolution 311 advocating freedom of expression and opposing the closure of RCTV. The resolution was introduced by Republican Senator Ruchard Lugar and Democrat Christopher Dodd. It was also supported by other Senators including Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Edward Kennedy, Joseph Biden, and John McCain.


They expressed "the profound concern of the Senate regarding the transgression against freedom of thought and expression that is being carried out in Venezuela."


These two international bodies join a growing coalition of condemnation about the shutdown that has included organizations as diverse as Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International.


RCTV received no legal documentation about the non-renewal of its broadcast license. It has been provided with no forum for a legal hearing and afforded no due process. RCTV is the most popular TV station and polls show 70% of Venezuelans oppose the shutdown. On May 23, Venezuela's highest court closed all appeals.


"It seems inevitable that the government of Venezuela will go through with this outrage. The Venezuelan president has said the only way this will not happen is if he is no longer president," said Halvorssen. "May 27 will be a dark day for democracy."


HRF is an international nonpartisan organization devoted to defending human rights in the American hemisphere. It centers its work on the twin concepts of freedom of self-determination and freedom from tyranny. These ideals include the belief that all human beings have the rights to speak freely, to associate with those of like mind, and to leave and enter their countries. Individuals in a free society must be accorded equal treatment and due process under law, and must have the opportunity to participate in the governments of their countries; HRF's ideals likewise find expression in the conviction that all human beings have the right to be free from arbitrary detainment or exile and from interference and coercion in matters of conscience. HRF's International Council includes former prisoners of conscience Vladimir Bukovsky, Palden Gyatso, Armando Valladares, Ramón J. Velásquez, Elie Wiesel, and Harry Wu.


For more information about the RCTV case (including a short film on the attacks on media in Venezuela) please visit