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Press freedom in Central America 2024

On World Press Freedom Day, Reporters Without Borders sheds light on the state of press freedom in Central America, noting stagnation or decline across the region.

On World Press Freedom Day, the latest information from Reporters Without Borders (RSF) casts a shadow over the state of press freedom in Central America. While Costa Rica leads the region and ranks 26th globally, RSF data shows a worrying lack of progress in Central America since last year.

According to the RSF, Costa Rica, Belize, Panama, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua are all experiencing stagnation or deteriorating conditions for journalists. The only The positive development comes from Honduras, which has experienced a slight improvement in press freedom since 2023, rising from 169th to 146th globally. However, the bar is very low and cannot mask the country’s persistently poor track record. El Salvador and Panama had the biggest ranking drops last year. This is especially troubling as 2024 is an election year in both countries.

Press freedom rankings 2024 in Central America:

  1. Costa Rica (26th in the world – down from 23rd): ranked “Satisfying
  2. Belize (54th in the world – down from 51st): ranked “problematic
  3. Panama (83rd in the world – down from 69th): Ranked “problematic
  4. El Salvador (133rd in the world – down from 115th): ranked “difficult
  5. Guatemala (138th in the world – down from 127th): Ranked “difficult
  6. Honduras (146th in the world – up from 169th): Ranked “very serious
  7. Nicaragua (163rd in the world – down from 158th): Ranked “very serious

According to RSF, several key factors contribute to the stagnation of press freedom in Central America. Political hostility towards investigative journalism (common in El Salvador), disinformation campaigns aimed at discrediting the media (Panama), and threats of legal action and violence against journalists are cited as key challenges. Guatemala is a typical example, where the criminalization of journalists and the imprisonment of Jose Rubén Zamora underline the dangerous environment that many journalists face in the region.

Looking forward

Looking ahead, RSF emphasizes the importance of Central American governments taking decisive action to promote a more favorable environment for investigative journalism. This includes refraining from hostile rhetoric against journalists, combating disinformation through media literacy initiatives and ensuring the safety and protection of journalists.

As we celebrate World Press Freedom Day, the situation in Central America is a reminder of the importance of a free press in upholding democracy and ensuring transparency and accountability.