The Inter American Press Association said 203 journalists had been killed in the hemisphere over the past 10 years. It also said that in the last six months some countries have moved to put new limits on journalism.
``Without freedom of expression, there is no democracy nor true liberty,'' the group said in a written statement.
During the three-day meeting in Jamaica's northern Montego Bay, Cuban journalists told colleagues they are terrified that a new sedition law in Cuba with a 20-year maximum prison sentence will be used against them.
The association concluded that the law ``is clearly directed at independent journalists who work in Cuba.'' It also repeated reports by Cuban journalists that secret police have increased harassment against them.
A team researching countries' compliance with the Chapultepec Accord, a document calling for press freedoms, said:
-- Fourteen countries in the Americas have laws that excessively limit freedom of the press, and lawmakers in Brazil and Mexico are considering new versions of journalism regulations.
-- Sixteen countries have laws imposing prison sentences on journalists who criticize government officials.
-- Eight countries have official requirements for training and certification of journalists.
-- Only six countries have public records laws that journalists consider effective.
The group also said countries continue to bar journalists from government business, noting that the U.S. Senate debated its verdict in the impeachment trial of President Clinton behind closed doors.
© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press