Using satellite imagery and geo-referencing, following the trail of trafficking networks and taking care for the safety of journalist and sources are techniques that journalists Yvette Sierra of Mongabay, Joseph Poliszuk of Armando.Info and freelancer Hyury Potter have applied in their investigations of illegal mining in Latin America.
The new e-book, “Protection of Journalists: Safety and Justice in Latin America and the Caribbean” is the product of eight months of articles originally published in the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas’ digital magazine, LatAm Journalism Review. The e-book can be downloaded for free in English, Spanish or Portuguese.
In FLIP's analysis, the government of Iván Duque, which ends on August 7, maintained a strategy of friend-or-foe with the press. With those considered critical, distrust and secrecy prevailed. In addition, he used human and economic resources to prioritize institutional communication and impose his narrative. This contributed to an atmosphere of polarization and built a wall that affected access to information.
Given the failure of protection mechanisms for journalists, members of the press must strengthen self-protection, solidarity within the profession and links with civil society, said representatives of Article 19, Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Mexico was one of the first countries to create a special prosecutor's office to investigate crimes against journalists. The Special Prosecutor for Attention to Crimes Committed against Freedom of Expression (FEADLE) was created in 2010 in response to the increase in attacks, particularly murders, against journalists. Yet, from its inception to 2021, the FEADLE has only obtained 28 convictions.
Join the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas Tuesday, Aug. 2, for a free webinar as we launch a free multilingual ebook on journalist safety in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Statistical data shows that in the last three years, the most common response of the Guatemalan public prosecutor to cases of attacks against journalists was dismissal. Only 1 percent of the cases end up with a conviction. Under Attorney General María Consuelo Porras, the budget to investigate crimes against this profession was reduced by 77 percent.
The only office that exists in Honduras to investigate violence against journalists and protect this vulnerable group is the FEPRODDHH, but it has only five prosecutors – all based in Tegucigalpa – without assigned investigators and without legal jurisdiction to investigate murders or assassinations.
In 2018, the Association of Journalists of El Salvador presented a draft bill for the protection of journalists. After almost three years, the effort was cut short. The initiative was archived when the ruling Nuevas Ideas party took control of the Legislative Assembly. The parties that resumed the discussion at the last minute hold each other responsible for the lack of approval.
Exactly a decade ago, the government of Guatemala committed to creating a plan to protect press workers in the face of growing attacks. That happened in 2012 during a government favorable to the idea, yet all these years later, it still hasn’t been achieved. Some journalists point to a distrust between the government and the press as a source of the problem.