Mayors and governors from across Colombia on Saturday signed a declaration pledging to uphold freedom of the press in every region of the country.
The signing in Bogota was “of historical significance because these leaders have committed to the defense of civil liberties throughout the country, especially in regions where violent actors have influence,” wrote newspaper El Tiempo, who hosted the event.
President Juan Manuel Santos, a former journalist himself, was a witness at the the ceremony and highlighted his administration’s efforts to ensure the independence of the press.
“There can be no good government without absolute freedom of the press,” said Santos.
Colombia’s armed conflict has for many years made it one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists, particularly in areas outside of the big cities. The country last year moved up two places in the Reporters Without Borders’ Press Freedom Index, but is still ranked 143 out of 179 countries, just below Russia. The methodology of the rankings is based on a questionnaire that is sent to Reporters Without Borders organizations around the world. The rankings correspond to the countries that report the fewest or most attack on journalists both physically and indirectly via press censorship.