Union's rights violated for its support of censored journalists
Repudian persecución y despidos en medios del Grupo Cartes | Sindicato de Periodistas del Paraguay https://t.co/cTVN1dP8QH— Luz Bella C. 89.7 FM (@89_LuzBellaCom) September 2, 2016
In September, for the first time in 20 years, leaders of the Union of Journalists of Paraguay (SPP) were prevented from entering the editorial offices of newspaper La Nación. The daily paper was bought in 2015 by Cartes Group, the business conglomerate owned by sitting president Horacio Cartes, which controls more than a dozen mass media companies around the country.
On 28th September, a delegation from SPP's Steering Committee visited the newspaper's offices to meet with workers and collect signatures to urge the government to convene negotiations with employees and employers. However, the union leaders were not allowed to enter the building, an obstruction which amounts to a violation of media workers' labour rights. The SPP believes this came in retaliation for its condemnation of feedom of expression violations and its support for journalists who have been censored, persecuted or fired for their critical stances towards the government. In a statement, SPP said:
'From the outset we have warned about the dangers involved un media concentration in every form, which in this case is aggravated by the fact that it takes place in the hands of the person who holds the office of the President of the Republic, who also acts to openly subjugate the other branches of government in order to control magistrates, prosecutors and legislators.'
In a positive development in mid-November, the House of Representatives' Human Rights Committee submitted a bill on 'Freedom of expression, protection of journalists, press workers and human rights defenders. The draft law aims to protect the lives, physical integrity, safety and freedom of those put at risk because of their journalistic work. The initiative was the result of more than six months of joint advocacy work by the Union of Journalists of Paraguay (SPP), the Association of Graphic Reporters, the Human Rights Coordination of Paraguay (Codehupy) and other civil society organisations.