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IFEX-ALC condemns death threat against SPP secretary general

Noelia Díaz, secretary general of SPP.
Noelia Díaz, secretary general of SPP.

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The IFEX-ALC network expresses its utmost condemnation of the death threat received by Noelia Díaz Esquivel, journalist and secretary general of the Sindicato de Periodistas del Paraguay (Paraguayan Journalists Union, SPP), on Wednesday, 10 October. SPP is a member of the IFEX-ALC network.

The threat was received as Díaz Esquivel was publicising information about the murder of Dalma Rojas. Rojas's former partner was charged with the crime on 9 October.
After receiving the threat, the journalist tweeted, “They threatened to kill me. I am scared and am going to take measures to ensure that my family and I are safe. And I AM NOT GOING TO STOP WORKING UNTIL MY DAUGHTERS CAN ACCESS THE SAME RIGHTS AS MEN AND CAN ENJOY A LIFE FREE FROM ALL FORMS OF VIOLENCE.”

Among a number of hate-filled messages linked to the information that Díaz Esquivel was publishing, a tweet from @LicPique contained the following: “Sincerely, with the fight that's being undertaken, and with the pardon of Paraguayans, you need to be assassinated and I would be delighted to kill you… Afterward, I would go to jail happy. I'm going to do it. I will find you.” The @LicPique Twitter account was suspended several hours later.

Díaz Esquivel filed a formal complaint about the threat with the Cyber Crimes Division of the Public Prosecutor's Office and submitted a request to the National Police for implementation of the security protocol for journalists at high risk. She also issued a statement denouncing the situation: “On the accounts I have with various networks I shared information about Dalma's case being a femicide, and that her family was also a victim of the crime. In the midst of a number of hate-filled posts I received the death threat. They were obviously using a false profile, but someone is behind that profile and I am afraid.”

The death threat against Díaz Esquivel is not an isolated incident. Rather, it is part of a growing climate of hostility and violence toward female journalists, who are being targeted throughout the region due to their status as public figures with higher exposure, as well as the important role they play in denouncing the systematic rights violations suffered by women.

As IFEX-ALC member organisations we defend freedom of expression and press freedom in 15 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean and form part of IFEX, the global network defending and promoting free expression. We express our utmost condemnation of the threat against Díaz Esquivel and call on the Paraguayan government to promptly investigate the incident in order to determine who is behind this aggressive action. In addition, we call on the government to provide Díaz Esquivel with the necessary protective measures to enable her to continue her personal and professional activities.

Principle 9 of the IACHR's Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression states that “murder, kidnapping, intimidation of and/or threats to social communicators, as well as the material destruction of communications media violate the fundamental rights of individuals and strongly restrict freedom of expression. It is the duty of the state to prevent and investigate such occurrences, to punish their perpetrators and to ensure that victims receive due compensation.”

These types of actions must not go unpunished as they represent a threat to democracy and the rule of law.

Artículo 19 (Mexico and Central America)
Artigo 19 (Brazil)
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
Derechos Digitales
Espacio Público
Foro de Periodismo Argentino
Foundation for Press Freedom - FLIP
Fundación Karisma
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
World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC)

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