Belize has fallen to rank 53 in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2021 World Press Freedom Index. This has placed Belize in the Red Zone in the dubious company of countries like Chile, Crotia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2021 World Press Freedom Index shows decline across the board in Latin America. With a few exceptions, the coronavirus crisis has exacerbated an already complex and hostile environment for journalists.
The pandemic has fuelled censorship in Latin America and reporters have had major problems finding out how the region’s governments have handled the public health crisis. These constraints have been reflected in a spectacular worsening in the indicator that measures how hard it is for journalists to access state-held information. Latin America has also registered the biggest deterioration in its overall press freedom violations score (+2,5%).
Obstacles To The Right To Inform In Belize
“Coverage of political developments and criminal cases in Belize is controversial because the media are extremely polarized. This often results in legal proceedings that are long and costly for media outlets. Cases of threats, intimidation, and harassment of journalists are occasionally reported. Due to inadequate infrastructure, Internet access is among the slowest and costliest in the Caribbean,” says the RSF report on Belize.
The report was prepared before new developments in Belize where the new PUP government has been accused of sponsoring attack advertisements against unions, independent journalists and digital media outlets in the current wave of anti-corruption protests taking place in that Central American nation. Immediately after taking office, the new government sought to downplay COVID19 pandemic rates by removing the Director of Health Services and obfuscating previously detailed, district by district and town and city COVID19 statistics.