SIP Calls on Bolivian Government to Create Protection and Safety Mechanism for Journalists

The country’s National Press Association reported more than twenty cases of violence against reporters and at least six media outlets.

The Inter American Press Association (SIP) on Tuesday urged the Bolivian government to establish “a protection and safety mechanism for journalists” to deal with the “aggressions” that have “intensified” in recent months in the country.

SIP President Jorge Canahuati condemned the numerous attacks on Bolivian journalists and stressed that the authorities must also “investigate the allegations and determine who is responsible”.

“It is time to create a protection programme that immediately attends to and guarantees the integrity of journalists who exercise their profession in conditions of risk and insecurity” in that nation, Canahuati said in a statement.

The governments of Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Paraguay have already created protection systems for journalists that serve to prevent cases of violence, reduce the levels of risk and combat the impunity that surrounds crimes against journalists, added the SIP, based in Miami (Florida).

Carlos Jornet, chairman of the SIP’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, said that while these systems are not as efficient as they should be, given that many countries “lack the economic, human and technical resources” to operate them, “at least they offer an important layer of security and prevention.

Canahuati and Jornet stressed that in Latin America “there is already sufficient accumulated experience of this type of protection system” to serve as a model for the Bolivian authorities.

They added that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights establishes that “prevention, protection and justice are the basic elements that these systems should have”.

In recent months, the Bolivian National Press Association (ANP) has reported more than twenty cases of violence against journalists, including physical aggression, threats, kidnappings and torture.

The ANP also recorded cases of authorities and officials publicly disqualifying the news coverage of at least six media outlets: Página Siete, Los Tiempos, Correo del Sur, Grupo El Deber, Agencia de Noticias Fides (ANF) and Erbol.

Last week, Bolivian journalists staged a sit-in in the city of Santa Cruz to denounce the lack of progress in the investigation into the kidnapping and torture of seven media workers, as well as the recent attacks during coverage of the ongoing strike in the country.

A dozen journalists stood outside the Santa Cruz cathedral in protest against police and judicial inaction to clarify the events of last October, when a group of journalists were forcibly detained by armed hooded men while covering land invasions in the region, Bolivia’s economic engine.

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