24 October 2017

IAPA to review main problems for press freedom in the Americas

Restrictions on access to public information, murders of and attacks upon journalists, and judicial harassment are some of the problems affecting press freedom.
Its General Assembly is to be held October 27-30 in Salt Lake City, Utah

MIAMI, Florida (October 24, 2017)—Restrictions on access to public information, murders of and attacks upon journalists, and judicial harassment are some of the problems affecting press freedom in the Americas that will be reviewed at the IAPA's General Assembly to be held October 27-30 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The meeting, one of the IAPA's two each year to review the state of press freedom, brings together nearly 300 people, among them publishers, editors, reporters, providers of services and interested parties.

For Saturday, October 28 are programmed sessions in which there will be presented and discussed in detail the country-by-country reports. A recurring theme in the reports is the access to public information. In Argentina, for example, this continues to be a pending issue and the question is raised about a recent presidential decree on putting the law into effect. Meanwhile in Nicaragua access to information is shut down, in Honduras there remain in effect laws that limit it, in the United States information is eliminated from the official Web sites, and in the Dominican Republic there is noted tendency of the authorities not to give information to the media.

The attitude of those in government and authorities to discredit the independent press, which they accuse of acting "political opposition," the bearer of "false news" and make it responsible for raising social tension, among other accusations, is seen with greater force in Bolivia, Jamaica, Guatemala, Paraguay, United States and Venezuela.

Several legislative initiatives that could restrict press freedom and become instruments of censorship are circulating in Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Peru and Venezuela, this latter country being where freedom of expression continues to be restricted and independent media and journalists are seen as enemies.

Meanwhile in Brazil there is noted a reduction in laws to put a brake on the press, in Uruguay what is seen is a tendency of authorities and institutions to file defamation lawsuits against journalists, media and writers.

In Ecuador the relationship between the press and the authorities has improved following the change in government, motivating national organizations to request, among other things, the drafting of a new communication law.

In these past six months there were innumerable acts of intimidation, attacks and psychological harassment made by drug traffickers, organized crime and officials against journalists. The most affected countries were Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Guatemala, Paraguay, Peru, United States and Venezuela. The most serious cases occurred in Mexico and Honduras, where seven and two journalists, respectively, were murdered.

Although in recent months there were imprisoned the perpetrators of murder of journalists in Colombia and Guatemala impunity and the imposition of a statute of limitations concerning these murders continue to be denounced in Colombia, Honduras, Mexico and Paraguay.

The preliminary country-by-country reports with full information will be available on the IAPA's Web site beginning on October 26.

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 publications from throughout the Western Hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida.