Freedom of Expression in Argentina – a Matter of Great Concern

Damián Pachter´s decision to leave the country has struck us deeply at Fundación LED -Libertad de Expresión + Democracia- The Buenos Aires Herald journalist feared reprisals for covering the Nisman case.

On Sunday, at 11.15 pm, journalist Damián Pachter tweeted about possible troubles at Prosecutor Alberto Nisman´s home. Early today, the Buenos Aires Herald and Ámbito Financiero journalist left the country fearing reprisals. He said, “I am leaving because my life is at stake.”

The Prosecutor´s death, still a mystery, has brought on a climate of uncertainty and fear in the country, given that the National Argentine Authorities have done nothing to guarantee the judicial inquiry, the life of the witnesses and of those involved in the case, and above all to safeguard peace and democratic coexistence. These are times of uncertainty and fear during which the citizens have demonstrated along the streets demanding the truth to be revealed.

In this climate of social unrest, the fact that the journalist who was the first to report Alberto Nisman´s death decided to go into self-exile has increased confusion and put greater pressure on journalists and the media, for them to keep on fulfilling their role which is to keep society informed.

Indeed, immediately after Prosecutor Nisman went missing after denouncing the cover-up of the AMIA attack (occurred in our country on July 18, 1994) by the national government, the authorities reacted by lashing out at the media.  Both the Chief of Cabinet Ministers, Jorge Milton Capitanich, and the President of Argentina, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, published two letters in Facebook accusing Prosecutor Nisman of helping to turn a judicial investigation into a media operation as part of a “dirty campaign against the Government.”. Later on, the Vice President of Argentina, Amado Boudou, embraced that same hypothesis by stating in Bolivia, on January 22, that the Prosecutor´s death was “an operation staged in an attempt at weakening the Government.”

On several occasions Fundación LED has denounced the institutional seriousness of making little of journalism and its role, and of the systematic attack against all those who do not share the official narrative. Now, for the first time, in this climate of hostility towards the press, we face something much more serious. A journalist has been threatened and has decided to leave the country and go into self-exile to save his life.

In states where the Rule of Law prevails, the National Government is primarily responsible for guaranteeing the rights of all citizens, as well as for taking action to protect their physical integrity and provide the necessary conditions for opinions and information to be voiced freely.

Fundación LED is very worried about the fact that journalists lack the necessary guarantees in the country and urges the National Authorities to make every effort to reinstate the Rule of Law. In turn, we request the intervention of the Judiciary so that Mr. Damián Pachter may come back to the country and keep doing his job with the necessary guarantees to feel safe together with his family.