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Violence in Mexico, hope in Colombia, and creativity as an escape from censorship in Venezuela (Demo)

This is a translation of the original article.

Numerous significant events occurred throughout the region in July. Among them was the unfortunate death of yet another journalist in Mexico. Rogelio Barragán, a reporter for the news site Guerrero al Instante, was found dead in the trunk of a car in Morelos.

On the night of 21 July, two unknown persons entered the home of journalist and human rights defender Lydia Cacho. The individuals stole her work equipment, took highly sensitive journalistic material, and killed her two dogs.

As the events unfolded in Mexico, new nodes of violence erupted during protests in Honduras, leading to unfortunate incidents, including violence against the press. Around the same time, media worker Santiago Carbajal was shot dead on 6 July in San Pedro de Sula.

In addition to these specific cases of violence, Honduran society suffers from intense government repression, to such a degree that IFEX-ALC released a statement decrying it mid-month. The communiqué condemns the actions of the Honduran government, and urges it to respect and guarantee human rights in the country.

This same statement mentions other worrying developments, including legal initiatives that threaten basic principles of freedom of expression. “As the organisations that make up IFEX-ALC, we are concerned about the Penal Code reform that will come into force this year, as well as the cybersecurity law that the Congress of Honduras is currently processing,” says the statement signed by 24 organisations.

Hope and creativity

In Colombia, a development near the end of the month made many human rights activists in the region happy: the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) decided to put forward the case of journalist and activist Jineth Bedoya against the State of Colombia before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

Bedoya was kidnapped, tortured and raped while she was reporting in a prison in the outskirts of Bogota in the year 2000.

The IACHR’s decision on 17 July was historic. Similarly, the Inter-American Court’s resolution will set a precedent on important matters in the region, such as gender violence and the collusion of paramilitary groups with certain elements of the State.

IFEX published an article in which it consulted regional experts and lawyers about the case. The interviewees agreed on the significance of the case, noting that it will contribute to ending impunity, and will set important precedents for the continent at-large. 

Venezuela continues to experience complications with regards to freedom of expression and access to information. With power outages, a shortage of basic goods and gasoline – in addition to digital media outlets being blocked for criticising the government – many journalists are finding creative ways to keep society informed.

Thus concludes a journalistic report that we published this month, in which we interview Venezuelan journalists and activists from different parts of the Caribbean nation. Narrating news on public transit, using personal social media accounts, and creating WhatsApp groups for media professionals are among the alternatives being employed in the face of an information vacuum in Venezuela.

In brief:

In Ecuador, César Ricaurte – the director of our local member, Fundamedios was jailed for 15 days. IFEX published a global statement calling on the government to guarantee the safety of the human rights activist.

Journalists were shot at and harassed while covering a protest in Paraguay.

Journalist Kendi Zidor survived an assassination attempt in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Eight international human rights organisations who make up Voces del Sur (Voices of the South, VDS), and are IFEX members, authored a report titled Sombra sobre el cumplimiento del ODS 16.10.1 (A shadow on the compliance with SDG 16.10.1.) The report examines freedom of expression in Latin America, and documents 734 instances of violence towards the press, across 8 different countries, in 2018.

If you enjoyed this, check out all the July regional roundups!

Asia & Pacific

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