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U.S. Department of State

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U.S. Department of State
Office of the Spokesman
Press Statement

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Press Statement by James P. Rubin, Spokesman
July 10, 1998

U.S. Government To Provide Funding for OAS Special
Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression
The U.S. Government through its Agency for International Development (USAID) will contribute $150,000 to the Organization of American States (OAS) specifically to fund the work of the new position of Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression. This position was recently established by the OAS under the auspices of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IAHCR) and is designed to examine issues affecting freedom of expression and of the press.
At the Santiago Summit President Clinton welcomed the initiative of the IACHR in creating the Special Rapporteur, and pledged United States' support for the position. Support for the Special Rapporteur was included by the heads of state and government in the Santiago Summit Plan of Action.
Commenting on the U.S. decision, Ambassador Marrero, U.S. Permanent Representative to the OAS, said, "The $150,000 contribution is another tangible expression of U.S. commitment to promote freedom of expression throughout the hemisphere and strengthen the work of the IACHR. The United States calls on other states in the hemisphere, and other potential donors, to contribute to the Special Rapporteur's fund so as to enable the Rapporteur, once appointed, to carry out this ambitious and vital mission with the priority it deserves."
Mark Schneider, USAID's Assistant Administrator for Latin American and the Caribbean, said, "This grant furthers USAID's critical work in consolidating democracy in the hemisphere. Press freedom is essential to building democracy." Schneider also strongly urged other potential donors to contribute.
The IACHR decided to appoint a rapporteur for freedom of expression during its September-October regular session last year. In doing so, it noted the "importance for the hemisphere of freedom of expression as a foundation of the democratic form of government and as a guarantee of the exercise of public liberties and freedom of expression."
In its February-March session this year, the IACHR established the position as a full-time Special Rapporteur, and announced for the latter the following mandate:
(A) Elaboration of an annual report on the situation of the right to freedom of expression in the Americas, which will be considered by the plenary of the Commission and, once approved, to be included in the Commission's Annual Report to the OAS General Assembly.
(B) Drafting of special and thematic reports requested by the IACHR.
(C) Gathering all material necessary for the above-mentioned reports.
(D) Carrying out other activities of promotion of freedom of expression assigned by the IACHR.
(E) Calling immediately to the attention of the IACHR serious situation which merit the adoption by the IACHR of admonitory and other rapid or immediate responses which might be necessary, in relation to violations or threats involving freedom of expression.
[end of document]
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