Violence and censorship are weakening Latin America democracies

July 29, 2015 2:31 PM ET

CPJ's Carlos Lauría testifies at congressional hearing on press freedom in the Americas

Washington, D.C., July 29, 2015--Deadly violence against the press in the Americas has caused censorship to reach one of its highest points in recent decades, the Committee to Protect Journalists' senior program coordinator for the Americas, Carlos Lauría, said today in remarks prepared for a congressional hearing before the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere of the Committee on Foreign Affairs at the U.S. House of Representatives.

"Not since Latin America was under military rule has censorship due to violence against journalists been so widespread," said Lauría. "Violence and censorship are depriving Latin American citizens of vital information to make informed decisions, creating political instability, and weakening the democratic system."

Amid the surge in violence, the number of journalists murdered or gone missing is growing in Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, and Brazil, Lauría testified at the hearing, titled "Threats to Press Freedom in the Americas." Most of the crimes go unsolved, and impunity exacerbates the risks for journalists covering sensitive issues, he said.

An array of judicial, legislative, and regulatory restrictions in countries where democratically elected leaders are trying to control the flow of information and stifle dissent represent the second most pressing challenge for the regional media, according to the testimony.

Citing CPJ research, Lauría also described the deterioration of the press freedom landscape in the United States. At a time when authoritarian governments routinely justify intervention in the media by citing national security, actions against journalists in the U.S. set a terrible example for the rest of the world, Lauría said.

The hearing takes place today, July 29, 2015, at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C. at 2:00 p.m. EST. The full text of his testimony is available here.

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