#NoSoyTuEnemigo: Conference Summary and Recommendations
Recent years have seen mounting threats to press freedom in the Americas. Mexican journalists are being murdered at war zone rates. Venezuelan journalists are threatened, censored and detained. Nicaraguan journalists are fleeing for their lives. Brazilian journalists are harassed online and off. A bomb was sent to a US newsroom. Threats emanate from both presidents and the people, on the streets and on the web, and as journalism becomes more essential amid increasing disinformation, it also faces growing challenges.
A new report by the Inter-American Dialogue’s Peter D. Bell Rule of Law Program and Fundamedios USA seeks to analyze and identify solutions to the threats facing a free press in the Americas. The report summarizes and presents salient recommendations from our second annual Media and Democracy in the Americas conference. Convened in collaboration with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the Inter-American Press Association, Reporters Without Borders, the Pan-American Development Foundation, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the conference analyzed both established and emerging threats to press freedom, including anti-media rhetoric from politicians, so-called “fake news,” and inadequate national protection mechanisms. It included the participation of prominent journalists, press freedom advocates, legal analysts, and governmental and intergovernmental officials, and was inaugurated by a photography exhibit featuring the work of Paúl Rivas, one of the three El Comercio journalists kidnapped and murdered by a dissident FARC front in April 2018.
On how to combat anti-media rhetoric:
- Encourage politicians to denounce violence against the press and create public awareness campaigns for the importance of a free press.
- Condemn anti-press rhetoric.
- Carefully calibrate coverage of rhetorical violence against journalists.
- Remove legal restrictions on freedom of expression.
On how to combat disinformation:
- Support fact checking programs and training.
- Increase government transparency.
- Flag false reports and reduce trolling.
- Increase transparency of all procedures in the electoral process.
On how to improve national protection mechanisms:
- Allocate more attention and resources to threat prevention, investigation and prosecution of aggressors.
- Create safeguards within protection mechanisms to prevent government spying and intimidation of critical voices.
- Create a protocol for threats from public officials.
- Include civil society and journalists in discussions on how to design and improve mechanisms.