ASUNCION – Journalists and other media professionals in Latin America work under conditions of pressure, fear and intimidation for various reasons, a member of the Berlin-based anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International said in an interview with EFE in the Paraguayan capital.
Reporters “can lose their jobs or suffer threats or violence ... I think people discussing the issue of access to information and democracy are sometimes a bit negligent when it comes to the issue of protection for journalists,” Fabiano Angelico said.
Politicians in some areas of Latin America are unaccustomed to democracy and respond to criticism by journalists with violence, he added.
Angelico, who made his remarks at a conference in Asuncion to mark International Right to Know Day, said that despite the current situation journalism remains a field worth investing in and urged Latin American reporters to obtain the training they need to make use of expanded access to information.
“We have more and more access to information laws and transparency regulations. So there are possibilities and information available for doing good investigative journalism, despite the risks,” he said.
Twenty-three Latin American and Caribbean countries currently have legislation on transparency and access to information, although these laws have not been enforced in practice.
“There’s a whole culture and practice of secrecy. We don’t have a democratic tradition in the countries of our region,” Angelico said.
“It doesn’t matter if there’s a law if the political leaders aren’t going to implement concrete procedures for providing that information.”
He did point to some progress, however.
“In several countries there’s investigative journalism that has used access to information to expose corruption and other things, and that’s something to celebrate,” Angelico said.