By Thomas Burt
Voces del Sur (VDS) is a network of 17 civil society organizations (CSOs) working to promote and defend freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and access to information across Latin America. VDS began in 2017 with the aim to design and deploy a shared methodology based on SDG 16.10.1 to monitor and report on violations of these fundamental freedoms, which are now recorded on a rolling basis as published alerts. In addition to its monitoring activities, VDS has made a significant impact in the promotion of freedom of expression in the region through collective network advocacy.
Since 2018, VDS has published annual shadow reports on its findings, which invite a comparative analysis of the situation across the region. VDS and its member CSOs also conduct extensive national, regional, and international advocacy on freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and access to information to build more just and transparent societies.
Currently, VDS has 12 indicators and one transversal gender indicator. VDS monitors a plurality of violations of freedom of expression and press, as well as the type of aggressor and victim. The gender indicator records attacks committed due to gender identity of an individual, especially against female journalists and members of the LGTBIQ+ community.
The joint monitoring effort of VDS has allowed the construction of the most complete, integrated, and methodologically sound registry of violations of freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and access to information in Latin America. In addition, it is the first methodology organized by civil society to measure progress towards an SDG at the regional level in the world.
As the 2022 report reveals, Latin America is the most dangerous region in the world for the practice of journalism. 2022 was the most violent year for press since VDS began monitoring five years ago. In the 16 countries VDS monitored in 2022, the network recorded 32 murders, 20 cases of sexual violence, and 1,953 cases of physical and verbal attacks against journalists or media workers. The state remains the most frequent violator of freedom of expression and press in Latin America, accounting for 56% of all recorded alerts. Stigmatizing discourse is skyrocketing, as is the misuse of laws and judicial proceedings to harass, violate, and intimidate journalists and the press. Self-censorship and exile are just two of the devastating effects of the deterioration of these fundamental freedoms. Ultimately, the 2022 Shadow Report reveals 10 notable and alarming trends in violations of freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and access to information in Latin America, which help organize a collective understanding of the issues at hand.
Thomas Burt is a Program Coordinator with PADF’s Democracy, Governance, and Human Rights team.
2022 Shadow Report