US to Open Security Training Center for Central American Journalists

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The US government is to open a security training center for Central American journalists in an attempt to plug the gap left by the regional authorities’ inability to protect journalists threatened by organized crime groups.

The center will be based in El Salvador and will support journalists in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala by providing physical and digital security training, offering financial help to journalists in “emergency situations” and developing personalized security plans for reporters and their families facing death threats, reported EFE.

The deputy assistant secretary of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Jane Zimmerman, who made the announcement, said the three countries lack the institutionally capacity to protect journalists or catch those responsible for targeting them.

The center is part of worldwide initiative that will also provide security training to journalists in Georgia and Kenya.

InSight Crime Analysis

The spread of drug trafficking and gangs in Central America has led to a serious deterioration in security conditions for journalists reporting on organized crime and corruption. This is especially the case in Honduras which saw thirty journalists murdered between 2003 and May 2012, and in recent years has emerged as one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists.

Although the planned US training center will do little to address the increasing influence of organized crime that lies behind much of this violence and the rampant impunity and lack of effective state protection measures that facilitate it, it will provide welcome help for affected journalists. However, with a budget of just $2 million to be split between the three centers around the world, its impact is likely to be limited.

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