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Journalist Safety in Latin America and the Caribbean

The following reports are part of a LatAm Journalism Review project on journalist safety in Latin America and the Caribbean, which is funded by UNESCO's Global Media Defence Fund. The stories focus on prevention of aggressions against journalists in the context of protests and violent conflict; the development of mechanisms to protect journalists from harm and the investigation; and prosecution of cases of violence against journalists. We’ve compiled all of the stories published so far as part of the series, and have linked to them below.

Illustration of photojournalist covering a protest

Part 1: Covering protests

The spike of public protests that sometimes turned violent requires guarantees from the State, but also preparation by Latin American journalists who find themselves in the midst of confrontations. Whether reporting on a demonstration against political corruption or rises in bus fare or illegal logging, preparing for these kinds of assignments can involve not only research into the people and issues involved, but also how to protect oneself from potential violence.

Journalists need more preparation and guarantees to safely cover violent street protests in Latin America, experts say

Journalists report cases of violence suffered during coverage of protests in 2021 in Latin America

Preparation and follow-up to trauma are keys for journalists covering protests in Latin America

Illustration of a journalist crouching down

Part 2: Covering violent conflict

Whether in Mexico or Ecuador, as in Colombia, Honduras or Nicaragua, the coverage of violence has posed new challenges for journalists, because the traditional concept of armed conflict is being challenged in the region. The diversity of armed groups also means broadening the definition of the term. It is not just regular security forces, such as armies or police, and paramilitary groups such as guerrillas, but it can also involve drug traffickers, gang members or private security forces.

Covering violent conflict: For Latin American journalists, the challenge is in their own communities

Latin American journalists covering violent conflicts in their own countries grapple with uncertainty and ever-changing dynamics

How to stay safe while covering violent conflict in Latin America

 

Illustration of someone holding a panic button

Part 3: Developing protection mechanisms

As violence against journalists has increased in Latin America, several countries have created protection mechanisms designed to implement safety measures for journalists reporting attacks or threats against them. This trend intensified after 2012, when the United Nations launched its Plan of Action for the Safety of Journalists based on the “three Ps”: prevention, protection, and prosecution.

More Latin American countries consider protection mechanisms for journalists; not every effort succeeds

A wave of attacks against journalists triggers calls for a protection mechanism in Bolivia

A protection plan for journalists in Guatemala that was dead on arrival

Law to enhance protection of Salvadoran journalists stuck in congress while attacks increase

 

Illustration of hand with gavel hitting a block

Part 4: Investigating and prosecuting cases of violence against journalists

Across Latin America, governments have attempted different models to investigate and prosecute attacks against journalists. It is evident that there is no unified model for creating an office to investigate and prosecute crimes against journalists. Some countries have special prosecutors, while other countries have investigative units. Moreover, the results of their efforts are often difficult to track, according to experts.

This part of our project on journalist safety is developing and more stories will be posted soon.

Prosecuting crimes against journalists in Latin America: the key to ending impunity

 

 

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