Venezuela is in the midst of a marked and alarming deterioration in the position of media outlets and conditions for carrying out journalism, as a result of ongoing harassment by state entities, coupled with the country's economic crisis.
We, the 23 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, condemn the freedom of expression violations and serious limitations on the work of journalists that have been taking place during the recent political upheavals in Venezuela.
A resurgence of freedom of expression violations has taken place in the form of the arbitrary detention of 12 Venezuelan and foreign journalists and their assistants in the last few days, in addition to censorship orders against radio programme hosts, raids on regional television stations in the state of Zulia and attacks on journalists covering events in the country. These actions are evidence of a strategy to close the only windows that remain open in Venezuela for circulation of information in the public interest.
Venezuela is in the midst of a marked and alarming deterioration in the position of media outlets and conditions for carrying out journalism, as a result of ongoing harassment by state entities, coupled with the country’s economic crisis. These events have resulted in the disappearance of national and regional newspapers, the closure of television and radio stations and an increase in blocking of independent information portals, as well as censorship and limitations on access to the Internet. This situation has worsened in an alarming way in the first weeks of 2019, and unfortunately there is no sign of a change for the better.
In the midst of crisis situations it is imperative to provide guarantees for the work of the media in order to encourage open, free and participatory debate and offer citizens diverse and timely information for reasons of security and decision-making – these are important responsibilities of any state that prides itself on respecting human rights. Actions that restrict access to information, freedom of expression and freedom of opinion are clearly anti-democratic and represent attacks on Venezuelans’ human rights.
We, the 23 IFEX-ALC member organisations, condemn these actions against the international and national press, which constitute attacks on free expression and the right to information, and call on the Venezuelan authorities to comply with their obligation to:
- Guarantee the security of journalists.
- Refrain from using the state apparatus and the armed forces to attack and censor critical voices.
- Allow the entry of foreign correspondents and ensure optimal conditions for coverage of political events.
- Fulfil the obligations outlined in international human rights instruments ratified by Venezuela, which guarantee the full exercise of independent and professional journalism in order to offer reliable information on matters of public interest, and protect the right of citizens to receive information and generally respect and promote the free flow of information.