Uruguay recorded 37 cases of threats to freedom of expression during 2014 and the first half of 2015, according to the report ' Journalism and Freedom of Expression in Uruguay. Threat monitoring ', presented on June 18.
The report is part of the First National Monitoring of Threats to Freedom of Expression which is led by the non-governmental organization, Center for Archives and Access Public Information (Cainfo for its name in Spanish) and seeks to analyze and document threats of any kind facing journalists exercising their right to freedom of expression.
Harassment through justice, for example, intimidating journalists with criminal charges, is the most commonly used mechanism to restrict their work. Nine of the 37 cases were of this nature.
With the same number of cases (6 total), threats, physical harassment (attacks that endanger physical safety) and obstruction of journalistic work, were second.
The report found that the biggest bully of the press is in the private sector (21 cases), while different government agencies ranked second with nine reported cases. Representatives of political parties were the protagonists in seven of those cases.
The month with the most reported cases was February 2015. All reported cases in the first report are available in the Cainfo page.
One of the issues that most caught the attention of the producers of the report is the lack of complaints by those affected, as well as the increased threats and physical harassment.
"The increase in these events without any complaints from those affected as well as a quick and diligent investigation by the authorities may imply a serious risk to the exercise of the right to freedom of expression, as has happened in other countries the region that now face much more serious situations than Uruguay."
Uruguay is one of the few countries in the region that is recognized for its respect toward freedom of expression and for its progress to ensure protection through legal reforms.
"Many times, Uruguay is thought of as a country that does not face challenges with regard to freedom of expression, since it does not experience the serious situations of extreme violence against journalists that many states in the region live today," says part of the introduction of text.
In fact, Uruguay ranks 23rd among 180 countries in the 2015 World Press Freedom Index published by the organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF). It is the second best placed country in the region after Costa Rica, which is ranked 16th.
"However, this study allows us to document and draw attention to other events in the country that, according to international and regional standards, are threats to freedom of expression and therefore violate the full exercise of this right during the practice of journalism" , the report said.
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.