End of Year message from the President of the
Inter American Press Association
Gustavo Mohme, La República, Lima, Peru
MIAMI, Florida (December 23, 2014).—This was a somber year for the press. A total of 19 journalists and news media workers were murdered in Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Paraguay and Peru.
To their families we express not only condolences and solidarity but also our commitment to redouble our efforts to obtain justice in the coming year and for other journalists not to face the same risks.
In Peru there were two murders this year, and that’s why in October I traveled to the countryside to express my solidarity and offer condolences to the members of the victims’ families. I met with Gerson Cuba, a radio announcer whose wife was killed in an attack on his radio station, and also with the parents of Fernando Raymondi, a promising young journalist, murdered just as he was starting out in the profession. They were heartbreaking meetings in which I received the clamor for more justice that these families are making, which one also hears in other parts of the Americas.
These murders demonstrate the lack of security and the high levels of risk that journalists face in the interior of countries, especially where the communities are more exposed to organized crime and corruption in general.
The weakness of democratic institutions, especially of the justice system and security agencies, tends to reduce the levels of public security, and degenerate into methods of physical or judicial censorship that end up eating away the free flow of information and the people’s right to know.
We are aware that our condolences and declarations are not enough to fight the violence. That is why for several years now we have been proactively using the Inter-American Human Rights System, to offer the possibility that the lack of justice at the national level does not to destroy the hope that it can finally be achieved.
Through the intercession of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights we have achieved historic agreements with governments for the protection of journalists to be increased and impunity lessened. Colombia, Brazil, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Peru are some of the countries where we have worked for the creation of systems of protection and special prosecutor’s offices, and that laws be enacted to protect our freedoms.
The results are mixed. Many advances fell behind because attacks on the press are part of the general context of violence that is affecting the whole society. However, we will not stop. The demand for justice in crimes committed against the press is and will continue to be our priority.
We look toward 2015 with optimism and are hopeful of continuing to promote and protect freedom of the press and of expression. From the IAPA we wish to thank our members and all those who defend these freedoms and ask them to continue being a part of this battle. Democracy demands it.
The IAPA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press and of expression in the Americas. It is made up of more than 1,300 print publications from throughout the Western Hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida. For more information please go to http://www.sipiapa.org.