Article by PBI-Canada

The German newspaper Deutsche Welle has published this article on the role journalists play in bringing to light environmental destruction, the threats faced by human rights defenders, and the risks faced by frontline reporters, particularly Indigenous reporters.

In the article, Christoph Dreyer of Reporters without Borders (RSF) highlights: “In some Latin American countries, the dominant traditional media are heavily controlled by the economic and political elites. They often hold back from critical reporting on environmental issues because it clashes with their interests.”

As such, the role of environmental justice reporters and Indigenous journalists can be crucial in the telling of stories to the world. RSF warns that without them the stories would not be told and the environmental destruction will continue.

Kathrin Wessendorf, head of the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs, notes: “Journalists can bring the human rights violations often associated with environmental destruction to the attention of the wider public. This, in turn, can lead to international solidarity and put pressure on governments or companies.”

The article also notes the work of Colombian journalist Andres Bermudez Lievano. He is one of the editors of Tierra de Resistentes (Land of Resistants), an investigative data journalism project available in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

The scope of their work includes Colombia, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico.

This 45-minute video (in English) with Bermudez Lievano and Alexa Vélez Zuazo (Mongabay Latin America) discusses the role of visibilizing environmental destruction and the threats and risks faced by environmental defenders and journalists.

Bermudez Lievano says: “Even though Latin America is still a dangerous continent for journalists, …it’s the communities that are really at the forefront of risks, it’s them who really need our accompaniment, who need our reporting, who need our visibility.”

The interview also highlights the role that can be played by social media as a safety tool.

Photo: Indigenous journalist Abelardo Liz was killed on August 13 by the Colombian Army while covering a campesino protest. He was hit by a bullet in the chest and abdomen when soldiers began evicting Indigenous campesinos from a farm.