Journalists raised concerns over the critical situation for press freedom
Salvadoran journalists have raised their concerns over the critical situation for press freedom and freedom of expression after a year of emergency powers enacted by the government. Salvadoran Press Association President Angélica Cárcamo reported that, in 2022, the organisation documented 136 attacks on journalists. Public officials perpetrated 49% of these attacks. According to journalists, the lack of a balance of power and insufficient legal reforms have contributed to the silencing of independent media.
During its mid-year assembly, the Inter-American Press Association warned of the number of journalists that have gone into exile due to the threats they have received. In May, the Latin American and Caribbean Network for Democracy led a dialogue with civil society organisations and Salvadoran media. During the dialogue, media and civic actors declared that the Bukele government continues to deny that it is undermining freedom of expression and the press.
On 6th June 2023, police director Mauricio Arraiza Chicas, in an interview on La Entrevista AM, threatened possible legal proceedings against journalists and issued a series of stigmatising statements against the press. The director reported that the authorities could prosecute reporters who have denounced and investigated the negotiations between the government of President Mauricio Funes and the Maras, criminal gangs operating in the country. These statements constitute an attack on the work of journalists. For years, the press has covered gang-related violence. The Salvadoran Press Association urged the police to not obstruct the work of journalists in their investigative reporting.
🚨#Alerta| Director de la @PNCSV amenaza con posible proceso judicial contra periodistas. La APES exhorta a que la PNC no emprenda persecuciones políticas vulneratorias de los principios de la libertad de expresión y libertad de prensa. pic.twitter.com/ZjkYaueQG0— APES (@apeselsalvador) June 7, 2023
On 17th May 2023, the Salvadoran authorities arbitrarily detained Manuel Gámez Morales, son of Vidalina Morales, who is an environmental rights defender and leader of the Asociación de Desarrollo Económico y Social (Association for Economic and Social Development) Santa Marta. On 18th May, the authorities released Manuel Gámez.
On 22nd May, the Santa Marta community urged the local and national authorities to guarantee and protect human rights in their territory. The community reported a military deployment in their territory from 21st to 22nd May and described this action as state-sponsored harassment. In addition, women environmental defenders and community leaders have been detained and have faced digital harassment and stigmatisation on social media, reportedly coming from accounts of persons aligned with the ruling party.
#efActualidad | La organización comunitaria @ades_sm comunicó esta tarde que Manuel Gámez Morales, hijo de la presidenta de ADES, Vidalina Morales, fue liberado hoy tras haber sido capturado ayer por policías en el marco del Régimen de Excepción en Santa Marta, Cabañas. https://t.co/yMfWiU8qHy— El Faro (@_elfaro_) May 19, 2023