Voces del Sur, a network of Latin American organizations dedicated to promoting freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and access to information released its third annual Shadow Report. This study monitors the progress that governments in the region are making toward reaching United Nations Sustainable Development Goal indicators 16.10.1 and 16.10.2, pertaining to the safety of journalists and public access to information. As this is the third iteration of this report, it allows for a comparative analysis with years prior.
The Shadow Report uses an innovative regional methodology, in which member organizations monitor “alerts” of violations against freedom of expression, press freedom, access to information, or safety and protection of journalists. These alerts are classified through a multi-layered, monitoring approach, where the data is aligned with 12 regional Voces del Sur indicators, and the findings are packaged for reporting. This methodology captures national nuances, while also making the data relevant for international reporting.
The development of this report is a truly international, cross-collaborative effort of 13 civil society organizations from across Latin America. In addition to sharing best practices, providing mutual support, and exchanging their experiences, the member groups of Voces del Sur have worked together to shed light on the dangers faced daily by reporters throughout the region, as well as the state of access to information and transparency. The combined strength of these partner organizations offers a platform through which a common voice can emerge in defense of freedom of expression. The growing number of partner groups is a promising trend for the future of this initiative.
In monitoring progress made toward SDGs 16.10.1 and 16.10.2, and documenting violations of essential freedoms across the continent, the Shadow Report provides a tool to take governments to task for their performance in the critical issues of safety of journalists and access to information. This data-driven report can be used by civil society groups to hold governments in the region accountable, based on their own commitment to these goals, and work with government officials to improve the state of freedom of expression in Latin America.
The continued and flourishing collaboration among the organizations that make up Voces del Sur suggests that civil society groups can join forces to address regional challenges. As the network grows in size and strength, the partners remain committed to the vital mission of defending freedom of expression in Latin America. The Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) shares the belief that a free and independent press is a cornerstone of democracy, key to promoting the open exchange of ideas and keeping government accountable to an informed citizenry.
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