Spying on journalists shows democracy at risk in El Salvador - 01/13/2022 - Sylvia Colombo

On the same day that the NGO Human Rights Watch released its 32nd issue on the situation of human rights in more than 100 countries, one of the highlights of the report gained another negative episode, in El Salvador, which raises concerns.

Among other things, the document sheds light on threats and attacks on journalists in several Latin American countries, not only by dictatorial systems, but also by autocracies and democracies.

And not many hours passed between the presentation of the document at a press conference and the announcement of the news, terrible for independent journalism in the region.

The award-winning El Faro, Central America’s leading media outlet, claimed that the phones of most of its employees had been hacked by Pegasus, the program produced by the Israeli company NSO Groups, which has already been sanctioned by the US government for having been used to spy on journalists and human rights activists in various parts of the planet.

El Faro says the spying was confirmed by work carried out by the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto.

For those who don’t follow the publication, El Faro is a real thorn in the side of autocrat Nayib Bukele. It was through the website’s investigative journalism that the clandestine links between the Salvadoran government and the “maras” (criminal factions), the diversion of aid to those affected by the coronavirus pandemic, corruption scandals and the negotiation of “truces” were denounced. with violent groups in exchange for political favors.

Bukele has already tried in various ways to economically suffocate El Faro. Its journalists are constantly threatened and some have already temporarily left the country after sensitive investigations.

Bukele denies being the one who hired the spy service. But, as its editor-in-chief, Óscar Martínez, stated in a text published in El País: if not the president, who? After all, the NSO Group only sells spy services to governments, and Bukele has a long history of focusing on El Faro.

In its report released this Thursday (13), Human Rights Watch points to concerns about democracy and the rule of law in El Salvador.

“President Nayib Bukele and his allies in the legislature summarily removed Supreme Court justices with whom they disagreed, appointing new members, and passed laws to dismiss hundreds of judges and prosecutors from lower ranks. The then newly appointed Supreme Court justices ruled that Bukele could run for consecutive re-election despite the constitutional ban. The government also proposed a bill on “foreign agents” that would severely restrict the work of independent journalists and civil society organizations.”

The chapter on Bukele’s advances on democracy seems to be gaining more and more pages

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