The annual report by NGO Reporters Without Borders indicates that the level of press freedom in Colombia has sharply deteriorated.
Colombia fell by 19 places in the index to be ranked 145th out of 178 countries. Last year it came 126th out of the 175 countries evaluated.
Clothilde Le Coz, director of the NGO’s Washington office, told Colombia Reports that Reporters Without Borders went to Colombia to investigate the situation and found a “very violent country” where the government has been spying on journalists.
Many high ranking officials who served under former President Alvaro Uribe are accused of complicity in the illegal wiretapping of government opponents, including prominent journalists, by government security agency DAS.
The previous government of President Alvaro Uribe, Le Coz says, often sent security guards to spy on journalists under the pretext of increasing their security. This move, she says, had “huge consequences for the reporters,” and the new government should investigate this problem.
Guerrilla groups, terrorists, and the mafia, according to Le Coz, also pose a major threat to Colombian journalists. Reporters Without Borders considers that the general security of journalists is at stake in the country, and in order to improve the situation, it is necessary “to fight against violence.”
The only Latin American country ranked lower than Colombia is Cuba, which is at number 166. Venezuela comes joint 133rd, while Ecuador is joint 101st. Panama, which borders Colombia to the north, is ranked 81st. The Latin American country which ranks highest in the table is Chile, at number 33.
In its report, Reporters Without Borders comments that “More than ever, we note that economic development, reforms of institutions and respect for fundamental rights are not necessarily together.”
Reporters Without Border secretary-general Jean-Francois Julliard said that “the defense of media freedom continues to be a battle, a battle of vigilance in the democracies of old Europe and a battle against oppression and injustice in the totalitarion regimes still scattered across the globe.”