Direct attacks on freedom of expression decrease in Argentina during 2016, according to FOPEA

The Forum for Argentine Journalism (Fopea) recently presented the report Monitoring Freedom of Expression 2016, in which it recorded and analyzed the 65 direct attacks and aggressions the Argentine press suffered during the year.

There is a remarkable reduction of 45 percent, with respect to 2015, of aggressions toward press workers during 2016, said FOPEA vice president Alfredo Zacarías on the report’s official page.

“But we must ask ourselves if that is enough. At FOPEA we believe it’s not: we are still far from the standards that would make us feel proud and safe in the practice of the profession,” Zacarías said.

According to Alicia Miller, director of Fopea’s freedom of expression program, the State as a whole – between police forces, public officials, judicial authorities, lawmakers and the intelligence service – continues to be the main aggressor against the press, representing 47 percent of the attacks.

Thirty-five percent of the 65 direct aggressions on journalists recorded in the study were physical or psychological, another 15 percent were accusations of threats, some of death, received by journalists at the national level.

Radio journalists continue to be assaulted the most, being the target of 28 percent of the attacks recorded in the report.

For the current annual report, Fopea updated and expanded the categorization of aggressions against freedom of expression by including cyberattacks and cybercrimes. These are becoming more frequent, according to the organization, and have their own characteristics that distinguish them from traditional attacks.

In this sense, aggressions against journalists at digital media increased, reaching 25 percent of the total.

2016 would have been a “black year” for Argentine journalism in terms of labor unrest, according to the report. According to the information provided by the Observatorio de Alerta Laboral de Periodistas included in the report, there were 1,499 confirmed cases of press workers dismissed from the country’s media outlets in the past year.

Recently, on March 7, Fopea also denounced the attacks suffered by journalists in the province of Jujuy, in northern Argentina, during a manifestation. Journalist Judith Girón and cameraman Alejandro Muñoz were hit by a sound bomb while covering a union march in that city.

Additionally, the organization denounced the recent aggression against journalist Mercedes Ninci de Radio Mitre, who was spit on by sympathizers of the former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who was testifying before a court in Buenos Aires.

Since Fopea began monitoring the situation of freedom of expression in 2008, 2012 was the year in which there were a greater number of attacks on the press, with 194 cases involving 239 journalists.

According to Fopea’s studies, 2016 was a year with the greatest number of business, economic and media transformation conflicts suffered by the Argentine 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.