In El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, impartial journalists are often the target of the violence on which they report. For journalists, it is literally of vital importance to be prepared for this. Free Press Unlimited works together with partner organisation Fundación Latitudes on a safer working environment for journalists.

For a number of years, Central America has been one of the most dangerous regions for journalists. In the past ten years, more than 50 journalists have been murdered and many more journalists have been harassed and intimidated. Ninety-five percent of these crimes remain unpunished and the field of work is steeped in fear, repression and self-censorship. Yet there are still journalists who go out every day – and often at night – to report.

Safer environment and greater resilience

Together with Free Press Unlimited, Fundación Latitudes developed a series of training courses. Dozens of journalists learned how to prepare themselves better; where are you going, how do you distinguish safe from unsafe terrain, are you taking a GPS, maps or medical supplies with you?

After mainly training journalists who work for large media organisations in the capital cities in recent years, extra attention will be given to journalists in remote areas in the coming period. They are often at greater risk than their colleagues in the city; they are more isolated and have less easy access to safety equipment or training.

During the training, a lot of attention is paid to psychological resilience. A journalist must ask whether he/she can handle the pressure and must learn how to react when a weapon is pointed at him/her.

Enayda Argueta of Fundación Latitudes: “After the training, the journalists clearly have more self-confidence. They prepare for dangerous work better and learn that they should not abandon each other, because if you are alone in an emergency situation you are more likely to make a mistake than when you are in a group.”

Solidarity provides relief

In remote areas where journalists are at their most vulnerable, Free Press Unlimited and Fundación Latitudes will supplement future training courses with various ‘support hubs’.

The objective of these places is to give local journalists access to a national and international network of fellow-journalists and media organisations. They provide access to safety equipment, the chance to apply for insurance and assistance with risk analyses.