Proposed law on international cooperation needs more discussion

first_imgNews VenezuelaAmericas June 15, 2020 Find out more Organisation News August 25, 2020 Find out more New wave of censorship targeting critical media outlets Help by sharing this information VenezuelaAmericas Local, national and international NGOs are extremely concerned about an international cooperation bill that the National Assembly is due to begin examining on an emergency basis since yesterday in response to a formal request from President Hugo Chávez. Reporters Without Borders defends freedom of expression and freedom of information with complete impartiality. Our vigilance and our right to criticize are directed at any government in any country, whatever its tendency, whenever an issue arises that comes under our mandate. This is our only criteria, and so it should be.We are concerned above all about the following points in this proposed law:1 – The bill was already approved on first reading on 13 June 2006. Why was it then ignored for the next four years? This is relevant to the question why it should be examined on an emergency basis now.Consultation with NGOs before a debate during the next parliamentary session beginning in January – when the opposition will again be sitting in the National Assembly – would help to reduce the divisions that the bill will inevitably occasion and that already afflict Venezuelan society sufficiently. A broad consensus could be achieved in this manner.2 – Certain aspects of the bill need to be clarified or amended.Article 14 of the bill says that the Venezuelan state “will stimulate the participation of organized communities, non-governmental organizations, universities, companies and other social entities linked to international cooperation.” The article does not however specify the level and form of this state “stimulation.” Would it entail control over the statutes and mandates of the NGOs?Articles 15 and 16 of the proposed law would establish a register in which the NGOs concerned would have to be registered. The source of concern here is above all the creation of a new “decentralized body” of a governmental nature whose functions would include “direction, control, coordination, monitoring and evaluation” of cooperation activities (article 9). A transitional provision requires NGOs to comply with the “provisions and directives” of this state entity within six months of the law’s promulgation.This provision is obviously the most controversial one. There is a very clear similarity to the way NGOs were placed under supervision by a law on the functions of the Peruvian Agency for International Cooperation (APCI) which was voted at the Peruvian government’s request in November 2006 and which President Alan Garcia subsequently withdrew following protests from national and international NGOs.3 – The circumstances surrounding the vote on the proposed law also raise questions about its future application. “How could we permit political parties, NGOs and leading figures of the counterrevolution to continue to be financed by the millions and millions of the Yankee empire?” President Chávez said on 23 November, urging swift parliamentary approval of the bill.In other words, an NGO receiving foreign funding, especially from the United States, would necessarily be guilty of “counterrevolutionary activities.” Such funding, even if only partial, would mean that the NGO’s sole goal was to overthrow the Bolivarian Republic’s government. Under this vision of permanent conspiracy, an NGO would just be the tool of a hostile power. These attacks betray a lack of any understanding of the activities of most NGOs, which are forced to find many sources of funding in order to survive, and a failure to appreciate their insistence on independence. The grave and deplorable precedent of the April 2002 coup attempt against President Chávez and U.S. political dominance in Latin America and elsewhere must not be used as grounds for systematically accusing all those who criticize or disagree with the Venezuelan government of plotting another coup. Which NGOs was President Chávez referring to in his speech?A bill of this importance needs something other than an emergency vote. It requires a debate and the opinions of the relevant institutions of the Organization of American States. We call for such a debate to take place. There is still time. Follow the news on Venezuelacenter_img News December 2, 2010 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Proposed law on international cooperation needs more discussion Two journalists murdered just days apart in Venezuela RSF_en Receive email alerts Coronavirus “information heroes” – journalism that saves lives News January 13, 2021 Find out more to go furtherlast_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *