Media Freedom Coalition statement on Venezuela
Published: 4 July, 2022
The undersignedmembers of the Media Freedom Coalition express their deepconcern over the lackof media freedom in Venezuela. Of particular concern arethe repressivemeasures employed by the Maduro regime, including theharassment andpersecution of journalists, media workers and independentmedia outlets,censorship, Internet shutdowns, property seizures and the generalsilencing ofcritics. This comes in addition to the considerable difficulties andrestrictions that are faced by non-governmental organizations working onanalysis and reporting of issues within Venezuela.
In recent years,the Maduro regime has restricted media freedom by harassing and persecutingdissenting voices, particularly those of journalists and media workers.Independent journalistsin Venezuela operate within a highly restrictiveregulatory and legal environment, and riskarrest and physical violence. Thesedifficulties also extend to non-governmental organizationsworking on analysisand reporting of current events within Venezuela. To avoid persecution orundesired consequences, including arbitrary detentions, many journalists andnews mediaresort to self-censorship.
The Maduro regimehas also orchestrated the acquisition of media trusts to secure friendlyeditorial perspectives and propagate state-sponsored policies, messages andideology. State-owned media outlets provide almost exclusively favourablecoverage to the regime, to thedetriment of any dissenting voices. Mediaoutlets that criticize or challenge the Maduro regimerisk facing legalconsequences, including the cancellation of their licences and the seizure ofequipment or property. As a result, Venezuela has lost its once-vibrantnewspaper sector andthe Maduro regime controls the domestic narrative.
Restrictivemeasures are evident in the digital space in Venezuela, where the Maduro regimeuses targeted content blocking against critics. The blocking or filtering ofservices affects thefree flow of information as well as freedom of expression,further eroding media freedom andcivic space. This is of particular concern,given that means of digital information and
communications have never been moreimportant and that most independent news outlets inVenezuela can now onlyoperate online. The regime also allocates significant resources todisseminate itsown messaging and drown out voices that challenge its narrative.
The right tofreedom of expression as exercised by journalists is fundamental to theprotectionand promotion of democracy, all human rights and the rule of law.Free, independent andpluralistic media both online and offline is crucial fora democratic society to make informeddecisions, hold authorities, institutionsand individuals accountable and hear a diversity ofopinions. Being ableto work in safety allows journalists to fulfill their crucial role of being asource of objective and unbiased information.
We commend thecourage of all journalists and media workers in Venezuela who, both onlineandoffline, report on attacks to democratic institutions and on human rightsviolations andabuses, as well as on corruption in Venezuela. Journalists needa safe environment in which todo their work.Signed:
the Czech Republic
the United Kingdom
the United States