The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has published its annual Killed in 2011 Report documenting the number of reporters who have been killed as a result of circumstances directly related to their work as journalists. While journalist deaths were highest in countries in the Middle East, the report also reveals that safety for journalists remains a big challenge in Latin America. In the most dangerous Latin American country for journalists, Mexico, three Mexican journalists were killed and CPJ continues to investigate four journalist deaths that may have been related to their professional endeavors. In 2011, further Latin American journalist deaths are reported in Brazil, Peru and the Dominican Republic. The website and the report also highlight a new increase in the targeting of journalists who use social media to promote democracy, freedom of information and human rights. In one particularly gruesome case, a Mexican blogger was found murdered for her work to uncover the activities of criminal groups. These deaths as well as the related “disappearances” and threats that menace Latin American journalists confirm the need of work of our grantees to defend members of the press and their right to free speech in Latin America.
In addition to the formal report, the CPJ website shares a series of maps and charts with data about the professions of the journalists killed, the types of stories they had been covering and the type of groups or circumstances that have been in their death. Based on these descriptions, many of the killed Latin American journalists had been involved in reporting on criminal organizations or government corruption. This accessible and thorough statistical analysis should bolster the ability of the Committee to Protect Journalists to effectively use this report in their advocacy work to prevent impunity for those harming or imprisoning journalists.
The Overbrook Foundation has maintained a strong dedication to defending human rights defenders, including supporting organizations promoting press freedom in Latin America. This advocacy tool should help CPJ and others to continue to support these rights in 2012. Freedom of speech and freedom of press must be defended if a broader population is to fight injustice; challenge local, national and international power structures; and defend their own safety and human rights. The data compiled in this report reminds us of how much work there is to be done to ensure the safety of journalists around the world, particularly in Mexico and the rest of Latin America.