Last Updated: Friday, 15 December 2017, 16:28 GMT

Attacks on the Press in 1996 - El Salvador

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date February 1997
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 1996 - El Salvador , February 1997, available at: [accessed 17 December 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

As a result of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's government's deliberate campaign to restrict press freedom, Ethiopia succeeded, for the fourth consecutive year, in imprisoning more journalists than any other country in sub-Sahara Africa. The state targeted the print media, and by year's end four editors of the Amharic daily newspaper and weekly magazine Tobia had suffered arrest and detention without charge. The judicial system was complicit in press freedom violations, grant-ing the state the right to detain journalists without charge while investigating them.

Using a barrage of charges including defamation, incitement of ethnic conflict, and publishing and distributing false or potentially dangerous information, journalists are regularly harassed, censored, arrested, and illegally detained for weeks, or months, without charge or trial. Those who were tried and convicted under the country's often-contradictory press laws faced exorbitant fines and prison sentences of up to two years. Several independent newspapers have folded under the weight of excessive fines, and journalists have gone into hiding or fled the country to avoid persecution. Despite government efforts to silence the print media, 74 private newspapers and magazines continue to publish, although some appear irregularly.

In March 1996, CPJ delegates went to Ethiopia to research press freedom issues and meet with government officials and members of the press. (For a more comprehensive discussion of CPJ's findings in Ethiopia, see "Clampdown in Addis: Ethiopia's Journalists at Risk," p.81.) Despite indications that the Parliament would review the country's repressive press law, press freedom violations have not abated. Promises to open the airwaves to private investors have not materialized and the broadcast media remain under government control.

Early February
Segundo Montes, CENSORED
Cooperativa, CENSORED
Victoria, CENSORED
Suchitlan, CENSORED
Radio Sumpul, CENSORED

The Supreme Court of El Salvador suspended a Dec. 4, 1995, order by the Salvadoran National Civil Police (PNC) that closed 10 community radio stations and confiscated their equipment. The closure was carried out at the request of the president of ANTEL, the state agency charged with regulating broadcasting and telecommunications. ANTEL interpreted the Supreme Court's decision to mean only that the equipment had to be returned, not that broadcasting should be allowed to resume, and the agency has refused to grant licenses to the radio stations.

June 26
Channel 12, THREATENED
Diario Latino, THREATENED
Radio Mayavisión, THREATENED
Radio Sonora, THREATENED
Domestic and foreign press, THREATENED

Fuerza Nacionalista Mayor Roberto D'Aubuisson (FURODA), a right-wing underground political group, sent a communiqué to several media outlets issuing death threats against journalists, priests, and politicians. The communiqué accused them of being behind a "frantic opposition" campaign against the government of President Armando Calderon Sol. It also accused the foreign press of being "sinister and conveying a wrong image abroad of El Salvador and its government." FURODA, named after the late founder of the ruling National Republican Alliance (ARENA) party, then sent a second communiqué in which it threatened to take action against journalists. The statement accused both the domestic and foreign press in El Salvador of negative coverage of the government and its privatization process.

July 12
Francisco Elias Valencia, Co-Latino LEGAL ACTION

Valencia, editor in chief of the newspaper Co-Latino, was detained for six hours on defamation charges, then released on 10, 000 colones (US$1, 150) bail. He was ordered not to leave the country. A hearing on the charges has not yet been scheduled. Valencia was charged with defaming Rafael Antonio Gonzales Garciaguirre, formerly the head of the criminal investigations division of the National Civil Police, in a Feb. 6 article about corruption in the division. Valencia refused to reveal his sources for the article or to provide the names of any witnesses who could corroborate his allegations against Garciaguirre. Garciaguirre was removed from his position, investigated, cleared of the charges of wrongdoing, and reassigned as the subcommissioner of the Department of Criminal Investigations in the Oriente province.On July 26, Fuerza Nacionalista Mayor Roberto D'Aubuisson (FURODA), an underground right-wing political group, issued a threatening communiqué to the media, saying that the charges against Valencia were "only the beginning." FURODA claims that it can find ways to stop Valencia and others from continuing to be "the voice of the Communists."

Copyright notice: © Committee to Protect Journalists. All rights reserved. Articles may be reproduced only with permission from CPJ.

Search Refworld