The Inter American Press Association (IAPA), a non-profit organization consisting of more than 1,300 publications devoted to press freedom, concluded on a somber note its 67th general assembly in Lima, Peru from Oct. 14-18.
An IAPA statement warned that “attempts to silence the independent press in the region have continued to become more and more intense throughout 2011.”
Mexico and Honduras have the highest rates of violence against journalists. Five journalists have been killed in each country since April 2011. Eleven other journalists have been murdered in the Western Hemisphere in the same period. IAPA said that “shameless impunities” extended to perpetrators “keep alive the tragic wave of aggression against press professionals.”
The assembly also discussed issues in Argentina, Ecuador, Panama and Venezuela, where governments are accused of creating a hostile environment for journalists, including “verbal aggression that in some cases emanates from heads of state.”
IAPA’s statement acknowledged that progress has occurred despite slowed or stalled legislation in Brazil and Costa Rica. It mentions that problems in obtaining public information, which is “a key point for transparency,” have been reported in several regions including Canada and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.
IAPA declared 2011 as “the year of freedom of expression,” but the October statement also said “obstacles and threats to freedom of the press have only increased in our hemisphere.”