7 journalists killed in Latin America since June


Paris : Seven journalists have been murdered in Latin America during the past six months, most of them involved in investigative reporting on corruption or drug cartels, the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) said Monday in its biannual report on the state of global press freedom, Spanish news agency EFE reported Tuesday.

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Three of the seven were killed in Colombia while one each was killed in four other Latin American countries – El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Paraguay, the Paris-based organization said.

WAN also mentioned last month’s killings in Mexico of three men who worked as distributors for a regional newspaper, whose crime reporting drew the ire of powerful drug kingpins.

“Journalists in Latin America continue to be the victims of murder, threats and harassment when investigating sensitive subjects such as corruption and drug trafficking. Government persecution and legal actions also hinder the work of the press, which nevertheless continues its unyielding battle for freedom of information,” WAN said.

Many reporters have fled Colombia in recent months, the report notes, adding that those who remain often engage in self-censorship out of fear for their lives.

Turning to Venezuela, WAN voiced concern over existing and proposed restrictions on the press pushed by leftist President Hugo Chavez, while communist Cuba – with 27 journalists behind bars – remains a “a dark spot on the map of press freedom,” the group said.

The world press body described the state of press freedom as good or satisfactory in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama and Peru.