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Reporters in L America face worse censorship, violence: IAPA

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Miami (US): Conditions for reporters are more challenging than ever in Latin America, where they face increasing government repression and spiraling violence, the region’s leading journalism advocacy group has said.

The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) issued its grim assessment about the state of the profession in the region yesterday, as it wrapped up a five-day general assembly meeting in Charleston, South Carolina.

The rise in violence has affected almost every country in the region, including, from a rise in journalist murders in Brazil, Mexico and Guatemala, to an increase in attacks in Bolivia, Argentina and Venezuela.

IAPA also lamented a “wave of censorship that is spreading like a massive oil spill.”

“This is true even in countries that have traditionally upheld press freedom, in some cases under the paradoxical pretext of promoting pluralism, of ensuring the ‘right to forget,’ or of stopping ‘hate speech’,” said the group which also goes by the Spanish acronym SIP.

“This, combined with the rising prominence of thugs affiliated with drug trafficking and urban gangs, poses clear risks for civil liberties, and for freedom of expression and freedom of the press in particular, and hence for the strengthening of democracy in the Americas,” it added.

At this rate, the number of deaths is likely to exceed last year’s figure, when 21 reporters and photographer were killed in Latin America.