Canada supports journalists and freedom of expression in Ecuador and Honduras

Ambassador Gort during Press conference.

The threat is real: 63 journalists and communicators were killed in Honduras between 2001 and 2015. Fear of punishments has contributed to self-censorship and eroded the quality of journalism in Ecuador and Honduras. Training, professionalization and public support by the international community are needed.

A thirst for knowledge in Ecuador

The Embassy of Canada to Ecuador was thrilled to partner with Journalists for Human Rights (JHR), Canada’s leading media development organization working to help journalists put human rights on the front page.  Montreal-based trainer Susan Nerberg led a two-day journalism and human rights training session in Quito, Ecuador.

Geared primarily towards journalism students and journalists starting their career, the training also attracted the participation of a few veteran journalists, who used the opportunity to share practical knowledge and expertise with more novice trainees.

The training was highly interactive and participatory, encouraging journalists to portray stories with a human rights angle more effectively. As one participant described it, the training was the “first human rights journalism training course that has ever been offered in Ecuador”.

The Canadian Ambassador to Ecuador, Marianick Tremblay, opened the training session by underscoring the importance that Canada places on defending human rights around the world.  Stating that “no country is perfect”, she remarked that we “all need to use our voices and pens to report on human rights stories, so that our freedoms can be protected and that societies can change for the better”.  “It takes effort in our daily lives to remain engaged and concerned with what is happening in the world around us.  I encourage the journalists present at this training to embrace their responsibility to challenge, inspire, and inform the public through their stories”.

Building a foundation of freedom in Honduras

More than 30 journalists from the capital city and rural regions gathered for the first day of the JHR training in Tegucigalpa. The participants indicated that they would like nothing more than to report better on human rights issues. JHR partnered with the Honduran organization C-Libre, and called on Honduran and international experts to complement the JHR training modules.

Because of the particular security risks faced by journalists in Honduras, Peace Brigades International (PBI) shared its knowledge and strategies to enhance the personal security of journalists investigating sensitive judicial cases or human rights violations.

According to the Canadian Ambassador to Honduras, Michael Gort, “Journalists have a responsibility to safeguard and strengthen human rights. And we must all acknowledge that their actions don’t threaten the rule of law – they strengthen it.”

Participants were engaged and the training was greatly appreciated:

“Thank you for the great contribution to us, journalists who are committed to the integral development of our peoples.  I hope that you can soon follow up with projects aimed at strengthening and building a country with greater equity.”

 - Wenceslao Canales, journalist who participated in the workshop

Strengthening societies

Canada strongly believes that freedom of expression is at the core of human individuality and is one of the essential foundations of a safe and prosperous society. Our offices around the world are working to advance press freedom and empower journalists to cover human rights stories objectively, effectively, and freely.