Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Mexico: Absence of protection of journalists highlighted before IACHR

Sources: IFEX and ARTICLE 19

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - Washington, D.C 31.10.11 - Mexico is the fifth most dangerous country in the world for journalists, with 70 killed since 2000 and 13 still disappeared. In light of the worrying level of violence against journalists played out against a backdrop of impunity, ARTICLE 19's Mexico and Central America Office made a submission before the Inter American Commission of Human Rights 143 session, on October 27th 2011.

In the submission, the cycle of violence against journalists coupled with the failure of the government to provide journalists and media workers with minimum levels of protection - despite the introduction of the protection decree in 2010 - were highlighted by the organisation as a serious cause for concern. The submission also highlights how violent attacks against the press have resulted in a chilling effect on the media in several cities, especially those gripped by the ongoing public security crisis.

"The climate of fear which has gripped certain cities, such as Laredo and Apaztingan discourages both the media and the relatives of the victims to speak out on cases of disappeared or murdered journalists. In contrast, impunity is fuelling this cycle of violence, as it encourages the perpetrators of these attacks to commit future attacks. All these factors, coupled with the lack of commitment from the Mexican government to seriously address these issues has resulted in the media - especially local media - resorting to self-censorship as a form of protection," said Dario Ramirez, Director, Mexico and Central America Office, ARTICLE 19.

Since February 2010, when the Interior Ministry first called for a consultation on the the creation of a protection mechanism for journalists, at least 15 journalists have been killed, 3 journalists disappeared and there have been 19 cases of attacks against media offices with explosives.

"As an organisation working on the frontline, the actions taken by the Mexican State in the last twelve months aimed at protecting journalists are clearly insufficient. Therefore we call upon the Mexican government to release all information relating to the implementation of the protection decree in order to assess the shortfalls," continued Ramirez.

At the hearing, ARTICLE 19 presented cases of violence against journalists as well as listed the Mexican government's unfulfilled commitments in relation to the creation of an effective mechanism to protect journalists. This protection mechanism - which excludes potential beneficiaries in the decision-making process - does not comply with the principles of urgency required by the present situation faced by the press.

ARTICLE 19 notes several deficiencies in the investigation of cases, including the complete absence of a rapid response protocol or a specific strategy aimed at investigating cases of disappeared journalists and a tendency to prejudge the motives and discredit journalists before the investigation even begins.