Annual aggressions against Argentine journalists grows 48% since 2008, report says

By Samantha Badgen

Almost 200 cases of attacks and violations against journalists' rights were recorded in Argentina during 2013, an increase of 12.79 percent since 2012 and 48 percent since 2008, according to the Argentine Journalism Forum (FOPEA)'s most recent annual report released this week.

“Once more, and for the second year in a row, we’ve broken negative records in the quantity of cases and violations registered,” said Fabio Ladetto, president of FOPEA, in the report’ prologue. “The numbers are symbolic on their own: almost 200 aggressions, intimidations or attacks confirmed made 2013 a terrible year.”

The following graphic, produced by FOPEA, shows the annual growth in the number of cases registered by the agency each year since 2008, when it started keeping track of violations:

The 194 cases registered during 2013 affected 239 people and 31 media companies. Eighteen incidents affected the press in general.

The districts with the most attacks where the city of Buenos Aires and the province of Buenos Aires, followed by Salta, Córdoba and Santa Fe, then Entre Ríos, Misiones and Jujuy, where the assaults double. Most attacks were committed during the month of March, followed by April and November.

The following map, produced by FOPEA, shows the concentration of aggressions in the entire country, with the most occurring in Buenos Aires:

The streets have shown to present double danger to journalists: the aggressive behavior of security forces and the stigmatization of the press by some protesters.

Throughout the year, security forces were one of the most aggressive entities. FOPEA documented 19 complaints against the police, two against the country's gendarmerie and one against the army for spying. The press workers facing the most danger from security forces are the ones working the field, like cameramen, photographers and journalists working with news agencies.

Tensions between the federal government and the press also continued, with the discriminatory use of state resources to benefit friendly media and punish critics, access denial to opposition media during press conference, aggressions from government employees, and reports of espionage by intelligence services.



FOPEA’s report also highlights the increase in cases related to drug trafficking. In an analysis on the threats of drug trafficking, FOPEA special consultant Miguel Julio Rodríguez Villafañe said there has been an outbreak in “undue and unacceptable conditionings to journalism” at the hand of drug trafficking in Argentina.

As examples, Rodríguez Villafañe highlighted the cases of newspaper El Sol, where journalists investigating the activities of a group of drug traffickers received death treats, and newspaper Síntesis, where César Rios, the paper’s director, had his home attacked with a Molotov bomb. Rodríguez Villafañe alerted that the government “must be first in having a protective attitude towards journalists in situations like the ones referred to where life, personal integrity and goods are at risk.”

“It’s important that the State have an efficient and preventative role in the problem… the authorities have an obligation to guarantee the protection of journalists so that they may freely exert their right to freedom of expression,” he said.

The report is available online here, or on PDF here. It also has an interactive map that covers the whole country, with details on individual cases by district, and graphics that summarize the most important details, like type of attack and attackers, and the districts with most attacks against the press.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.

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