We, the members of the IFEX-ALC network, who work to defend freedom of expression and press freedom in 15 Latin American and Caribbean countries and who form part of the broader IFEX network that defends and promotes free expression worldwide, express our deep concern over the verbal and physical attacks suffered by Bolivian media outlets and journalists that have been documented in 2018.
At the beginning of August, two female journalists were attacked during the unveiling of the country's new presidential residence by security staff. Journalists were also held against their will, including the case of María Ulo, a journalist who reported that in October a judge held her in court for 40 minutes and verbally intimidated her. A journalist from “Pagina Siete” newspaper was also harassed for reporting on parents of children with cancer who demanded to know what had happened to money from a fundraising campaign.
In July, students attacked a journalism team from the state-owned Bolivia TV channel and, early in the year, journalist Yadira Peláez reported that she was being subjected to a judicial harassment campaign.
The situation of impunity regarding attacks on the press is also troubling. Many attacks have not been investigated and none of those responsible for the incidents have been brought to justice, including, for example, the case of the journalists who were assaulted at the presidential residence in August.
In addition to the attacks, recent reports of surveillance of journalists by police via social media networks also give cause for concern. These actions undermine freedom of expression and lead to self-censorship among journalists. As has been noted by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, "the free exercise of journalism can only be done when the people who do it are not victims of threats or physical, mental or moral attacks or other acts of harassment."
IFEX-ALC calls on the Bolivian government to provide guarantees for the right to freedom of expression and to fulfill its obligations to investigate and bring to justice those responsible for actions against the press.
Artigo 19 (Brazil)
Asociación Mundial de Radios Comunitarias América Latina y el Caribe (AMARC ALC)
Asociación por los Derechos Civiles (ADC)
Association of Caribbean Media Workers
Brazilian Association for Investigative Journalism
Centro de Archivos y Acceso a la Información Pública
Centro Nacional de Comunicación Social
Comité por la Libre Expresión - C-Libre
Foro de Periodismo Argentino
Foundation for Press Freedom - FLIP
Fundamedios - Andean Foundation for Media Observation and Study
Instituto de Prensa y Libertad de Expresión - IPLEX
Instituto Prensa y Sociedad
Instituto Prensa y Sociedad de Venezuela
Latin American Observatory of Regulation, Media and Convergence - OBSERVACOM
National Press Association
Observatorio Latinoamericano para la Libertad de Expresión - OLA
Sindicato de Periodistas del Paraguay
Trinidad and Tobago's Publishers and Broadcasters Association