In recent years,
the Maduro regime has restricted media freedom by harassing and persecuting
dissenting voices, particularly those of journalists and media workers.
Independent journalists in Venezuela operate within a highly restrictive
regulatory and legal environment, and risk arrest and physical violence. These
difficulties also extend to non-governmental organizations working on analysis
and reporting of current events within Venezuela. To avoid persecution or
undesired consequences, including arbitrary detentions, many journalists and
news media resort to self-censorship.
The Maduro regime
has also orchestrated the acquisition of media trusts to secure friendly
editorial perspectives and propagate state-sponsored policies, messages and
ideology. State-owned media outlets provide almost exclusively favourable
coverage to the regime, to the detriment of any dissenting voices. Media
outlets that criticize or challenge the Maduro regime risk facing legal
consequences, including the cancellation of their licences and the seizure of
equipment or property. As a result, Venezuela has lost its once-vibrant
newspaper sector and the Maduro regime controls the domestic narrative.
measures are evident in the digital space in Venezuela, where the Maduro regime
uses targeted content blocking against critics. The blocking or filtering of
services affects the free flow of information as well as freedom of expression,
further eroding media freedom and civic space. This is of particular concern,
given that means of digital information and communications have never been more
important and that most independent news outlets in Venezuela can now only
operate online. The regime also allocates significant resources to disseminate its
own messaging and drown out voices that challenge its narrative.
The right to
freedom of expression as exercised by journalists is fundamental to the
protection and promotion of democracy, all human rights and the rule of law.
Free, independent and pluralistic media both online and offline is crucial for
a democratic society to make informed decisions, hold authorities, institutions
and individuals accountable and hear a diversity of opinions. Being able
to work in safety allows journalists to fulfill their crucial role of being a
source of objective and unbiased information.
We commend the
courage of all journalists and media workers in Venezuela who, both online and
offline, report on attacks to democratic institutions and on human rights
violations and abuses, as well as on corruption in Venezuela. Journalists need
a safe environment in which to do their work.
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