Sun | Aug 20, 2017

20 journalists murdered in the Americas in 2015

Published:Sunday | January 3, 2016 | 1:09 AMPierre Manigualt
Members of the Press Association of Jamaica (from left), Archibald Gordon, president Dionne Jackson Miller, Jacqueline Burrell, and Milton Walker at the church service to launch the 2015 National Journalism Week at the Andrews Seventh-day Adventist Church.

While 2015 brought about some positive political changes that we hope will help foster more respect for freedom of the press and freedom of expression, it has also had a sadly familiar darker side with the murders of more journalists.

In Ecuador there's a new constitutional amendment that establishes communication as a public service. In some countries there exists a change in the extent of power. The Executive Branch in Argentina and the new Legislative Branch in Venezuela now have the challenge of correcting systematic attacks on press freedom by previous administrations, for example, enacting laws on access to public information that reaffirm the public's right to information.

The Inter American Press Association's (IAPA) major attention was focused on the serious problem being faced by the profession.

Last year 20 journalists were murdered in the Americas. These crimes were committed in Brazil (6), Colombia (4), Mexico (4), Guatemala (2), Honduras (2), Paraguay (1) and Dominican Republic (1).

They require us to continue fighting for justice and pressuring governments for them to create systems of protection and safety, and in that way offer the constitutional guarantees that they are obliged to respect.

In this year we will continue to defend against attacks on the media and journalists, such as the discriminate placement of government advertising to punish critical and independent media; the harassment or legal and juridical pursuit of journalists, and the wrongful distribution of propaganda through government controlled news media.

We remain convinced that any attack upon freedom of the press minimises the value of democracy and restricts the pursuit of the common good.

As I said on assuming the presidency in October, we remain committed both to strengthening IAPA's membership and to more effectively addressing our industry's many challenges.

One of our key events of this year will be hosting the second-annual digital media conference in June 2016. SipConnect showcases our strategies for helping media throughout the hemisphere monetise digital content and develop bigger audiences.

Finally, we will begin 2016 with a renewed resolve and commitment to our primary mission as established in the Declaration of Chapultepec: to promote and defend freedom of the press throughout the Americas.

- Pierre Manigault, is the president of IAPA, a not-for-profit Organisation dedicated to the defence and promotion of freedom of the press and of expression in the Americas. Email feedback to editorial@gleanerjm.com.