Knight Foundation Strengthens Fight Against Impunity in the Americas
Contact: Marc Fest, Director of Communications, 305-908-2677
The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) will broaden its campaign against impunity for those who kill journalists by bringing judges and lawmakers into the effort, backed by a four-year, $2.5 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
The increasingly successful Project Against Impunity will involve the judiciary branches through a series of forums and meetings designed to call attention to the fact that judges face life-threatening conditions, just as journalists do, in carrying out their work in a democracy.
The project will target countries where policy and legal changes may increase the prosecution and conviction of those who kill those who act on behalf of civil society – including Brazil, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Venezuela. The IAPA also expects governments to reopen investigations, improve the judicial system and compensate victims’ families. The grant also will enable IAPA to continue to investigate and publicize cases itself, including through a popular web site and a broad-based advertising campaign.
“We cannot pass on this opportunity to uphold our commitment to a universal value such as freedom of expression and of the press,” says Alberto Ibargüen, Knight Foundation president. “This funding will help our embattled Latin American colleagues by making clear to those who attack journalists that they will pay for their crimes.”
“This grant will help us open and sustain a new front in our battle against impunity, while allowing us to continue to focus on our four major strategies: advocating before governments, investigating crimes against journalists, developing public awareness campaigns and training journalists to survive in dangerous situations,” says IAPA President Rafael Molina.
There were almost no convictions or investigations of murdered journalists under way in the Americas when the IAPA project began in 1995. More than a decade later, 64 investigations have been completed, 82 individuals are currently in jail or have served sentences, and more than 1,000 journalists have been trained in safety practices throughout the Caribbean and the Americas.
“Before this project, the murderers of journalists operated with virtually 100 percent impunity,” said Eric Newton, vice president of Knight Foundation’s journalism program. “After five years of work, IAPA helped get the impunity rate down to 79 percent. After 10 years, it’s down to 57 percent. If this grant works, for the first time in journalism history in the Americas, justice will come to a majority of the cases involving the murder of journalists in the Americas.”
Since 1995, Knight Foundation has contributed $7.7 million to the impunity campaign. Foundation founders Jack and Jim Knight helped launch IAPA, and the foundation’s first journalism grant, in 1954, went to the nascent organization.
The Inter American Press Association is a nonprofit dedicated to defending freedom of expression and of the press throughout the Americas. IAPA focuses on defending freedom of the press in the Americas, advocating the rights of journalists, encouraging high standards of professional and business conduct, and fostering a wider knowledge and greater interchange among the peoples in the Americas in support of the basic principles of a free society.
About Knight Foundation
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation promotes journalism excellence worldwide and invests in the vitality of the U.S. communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Since 1950, the foundation has granted more than $300 million to advance journalism quality and freedom of expression. Knight Foundation supports ideas and projects that create transformational change.