IFEX presents report to UN hoping to root out impunity in freedom of expression cases in Latin America

Impunity continues to be one of the most serious problems facing freedom of expression in Latin America and the Caribbean, according the International Freedom of Expression Exchange in Latin American and Caribbean's (IFEX-ALC) Annual Report on Impunity 2012.

Presented in Geneva, Switzerland on Monday, March 4, the report seeks to leverage the United Nations' Human Rights system to promote government "actions to eradicate the existing culture of impunity," according to the IFEX-ALC website.

IFEX recorded 74 cases of killed journalists in Latin America from January 2010 to September 2012, of which only eight cases have been solved. The organization also reported the 431 journalists received death threats and attacks against the press climbed to 878 cases. Another 120 journalists were taken to court over articles they had written.

The report explained that while cases of killed journalists tend to be most associated with impunity, the reality is more complex.

In Honduras, Mexico and Guatemala impunity is closely tied to insecurity, censorship by direct threats and self-censorship motivated by the fear of reprisals. Colombia faces a persistent crisis of access to the courts, while in Brazil government efforts fall short of protecting journalists in isolated areas.

Impunity in countries like Ecuador, Bolivia and Venezuela is related to indirect censorship that contributes to an environment of apathy, permissiveness and State collusion to quash free expression. IFEX noted that Peru has some of the highest reported instances of attacks on and killed journalists in South America over the last three decades and law enforcement is unlikely to reverse the trend. The report also noted that journalists in Argentina face "repeated low intensity violent episodes.

In the Caribbean, journalists critical of the government or corruption face physical violence and lawsuits.

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.