Report to the IAPA Midyear Meeting
March 29 to 31
Cartagena, Colombia
Press freedom was mainly affected by the national government, which treated many media outlets as opponents - for being critical of the administration, and arbitrarily arrested journalists.

On October 31, the Public Prosecutor's Office - under pressure from Justice Minister Andin Bikker, ordered the arrest of Marko Espinoza, editor of - Aruba's largest news portal, and photojournalists Maritza Lacle and Rossini Tromp, of the Solo di Pueblo newspaper and ArubaNative, on suspicion of stealing or embezzling police radio equipment. Lacle and Tromp were released days later. Computers and communication equipment were confiscated from journalists during a raid.

No police radio was found on Espinoza, but he remained in custody until November 6, 2018. His cell phone was confiscated and the State Detective Service (Dienst Landsrecherche) copied all the information on his cell phone. During the interrogation process he was forced to reveal the sources that provided with police news - such as crimes and accidents, even if these were picked up on police radio frequencies. He was threatened with the deportation of his family - of Peruvian origin, if he did not disclose his sources.

Months earlier, after he reported about an armed robbery, in a press conference, the Minister of Justice accused the media for that coverage and referred to the theft of police radios.

On November 6, the Public Prosecutor's Office arrested Nelson Cabral de Andrade - one of the managers of, on suspicion of theft, embezzlement of police radios and bribing a public official. No evidence was found and he was released two days later. Four journalists and one policeman were arrested during the whole process.

No investigation found any evidence - so these are considered acts of intimidation. According to the laws of the country, listening to a police frequency is not a criminal act. No case has been brought before the First Instance Court against any journalist based on these investigations.

During these months the police continued to approach journalists reporting on police activity, take photos of their communication equipment and search their cars - without a warrant. The media continues to classify these random raids as acts of intimidation.

In December the island's media formed a cooperative called "Team Prensa Aruba" (Aruba Press Team). It is made up of,,, and the newspapers Solo di Pueblo and AWEMainta (electronic newspaper).