Today is World Press Freedom Day.
It is an occasion to highlight that many journalists are also human rights defenders.
The United Nations says that today is a day to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom; assess the state of press freedom throughout the world; defend the media from attacks on their independence; and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
The International Federation of Journalists has reported that in 2018, 94 journalists and media workers around the world died in targeted killings, bomb attacks and crossfire incidents. The highest number of killings were in Mexico (11), Colombia (2), and Guatemala (2).
On March 15, Time magazine named Colombian journalist Claudia Julieta Duque one of the 10 journalists in the world facing the most urgent threats to press freedom.
That article noted, "Duque has endured kidnapping, illegal surveillance, psychological torture and repeated exiles as a result of her work."
The Peace Brigades International-Colombia Project has provided protective accompaniment to Duque since 2010.
To read more about Duque, please see this rabble.ca blog: Colombian journalist Claudia Julieta Duque faces adversity for her investigative reporting.
At least 62 journalists have been killed in Honduras between 2006 and 2017, making it one of the most dangerous countries in the world for reporters.
Al Jazeera has reported, "[Honduran journalist Dina Meza] has repeatedly suffered threats of sexual violence and against her life, as well as surveillance and other forms of intimidation, such as unusual late-night phone calls."
The Peace Brigades International-Honduras Project has accompanied Meza since 2014.
To read more about Meza, please see this rabble.ca blog: Honduran journalist Dina Meza faces danger to report on human rights abuses.
Reporters Without Borders has registered 102 Mexican journalists killed and 14 disappeared between 2006 and 2018. In 2019, four journalists -- Santiago Barroso, Reynaldo Lopez, Jose Murua and Jesus Ramos -- have been killed in Mexico.
In March of this year, the Peace Brigades International-Mexico Project and The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) produced a report titled "Turning the Tide on Impunity: Protection and Access to Justice for Journalists and Human Rights Defenders in Mexico."
That report examines what the Mexican government must do beyond providing immediate protection to journalists and defenders. It also provides a series of recommendations on how the government can develop a more comprehensive strategy for protecting human rights defenders and journalists.
On this day, let us commit ourselves to remember the journalists who have died to bring the news to us and ensure that these human rights defenders have the protection they need to both inform us and speak truth to power.
Brent Patterson is Executive Director of Peace Brigades International-Canada, a political activist, and a writer.
Photo by Peace Brigades International
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