World’s press calls for action as threats continue to undermine Mexican media
Authorities fail to act as perpetrators of violent attacks on journalists go unpunished
VIENNA, PARIS, and DARMSTADT, April 3, 2013 - With media professionals across Mexico continuing to face high levels of violent crime, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), the World Editors Forum (WEF) and the International Press Institute (IPI) call on the federal government to do more to protect journalists and reverse the prevailing culture of impunity.
President Enrique Peña Nieto promised, when taking office in December 2012, to address the wave of violent crime that has plagued Mexico in recent years. The country’s journalists have been consistent targets, and the freedom of the press to report openly has been severely restricted.
Since December 2006 - the beginning of the so-called “War on Drugs” - 41 journalists have been murdered with almost total impunity, while concrete steps have yet to be taken to address on-going safety concerns.
"We call on individual states as well as the federal government to acknowledge the extent of the crisis facing the media, and the detrimental impact this has for Mexican citizens," said WAN-IFRA CEO, Vincent Peyrègne.
Of the numerous cases of intimidation, that of writer, journalist and 2012 WAN-IFRA Golden Pen of Freedom laureate, Anabel Hernández, is of immediate concern. For the past two years, Ms. Hernández has received police protection as a result of reported death threats from former Secretary of the Interior, Genaro García Luna. On 11 March, she learned that Mexico City’s authorities were considering withdrawing this protection. WAN-IFRA calls for Ms. Hernández’ security measures to be extended until a thorough assessment of her safety situation is made and the perpetrators of these threats are brought to justice.
Since President Enrique Peña Nieto came to power, WAN-IFRA and IPI research reveals the following attacks against the Mexican press:
• In the northern state of Coahuila, journalist Milton Martínez, director of Saltillo-based Envivoradio.tv, was attacked and threatened for his work covering local police just three days into the new presidency.
• On 7 February, five employees from daily El Siglo de Torreón were kidnapped. The newspaper’s premises were attacked on three separate occasions, resulting in the death of a civilian.
• On 24 February in Hermosillo, state capital of Sonora, five journalists were beaten while covering a demonstration. Neither city nor state officials intervened.
• On 3 March, Jaime Guadalupe González, director of online site Ojinaga Noticias, became the first journalist death of President Peña Nieto’s term when he was killed in the crossfire between armed groups.
• On 6 March in the border town of Ciudad Juárez, the buildings of newspaper El Diario and TV channel Canal 44 were attacked by weapons of a calibre used only by the armed forces.
• On the morning of 7 March, Coahuila state woke to dozens of banners displaying messages threatening journalists at daily Zócalo. Attributed to members of organised crime groups, on 11 March executives at the paper announced they would no longer publish information related to the on-going war between cartels.
• On 19 March, Félix Márquez, a photojournalist with the Cuartoscuro agency, announced he was to leave Veracruz as a consequence of intimidation and harassment from the state governor, Javier Duarte. Márquez was publically accused of publishing falsified photographs of paramilitary groups. With nine journalists killed in the past two years, between 12 and 15 currently displaced to other states of the country and two in exile, both WAN-IFRA and IPI consider Veracruz one of the most dangerous regions in the world in which to be a journalist.
During a recent visit to Mexico City, WAN-IFRA and IPI, found certain progress had been made in establishing the legal measures aimed at protecting media professionals and fighting impunity. The Protection Mechanism established by the Law for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, as well as legislation allowing federal authorities to prosecute crimes against journalists are both welcomed steps (http://www.wan-ifra.org/node/72531). However, implementation remains painstakingly slow, while attacks against the press continue across the country. WAN-IFRA and IPI reiterate their call for the immediate implementation of these measures to help guarantee a free press in Mexico.
“We call on the Mexican Congress to pass, without delay, legislation that would put into practice a recent constitutional reform giving the federal government the power to investigate crimes against journalists,” IPI Executive Director Alison Bethel McKenzie said. “We also urge federal authorities to ensure that the newly installed Protection Mechanism is able to respond quickly and efficiently to threats against the media.”
WAN-IFRA, based in Paris, France, and Darmstadt, Germany, with subsidiaries in Singapore and India, is the global organisation of the world’s newspapers and news publishers. It represents more than 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries. Its core mission is to defend and promote press freedom, quality journalism and editorial integrity and the development of prosperous businesses.
The WEF is the leading network for print and digital editors of newspapers and news organisations around the world. It is built on a commitment to defend press freedom and promote editorial excellence.
IPI, based in Vienna, is a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists dedicated to the furtherance and safeguarding of press freedom, the protection of freedom of opinion and expression, the promotion of the free flow of news and information, and the improvement of the practices of journalism.
Inquiries to: Larry Kilman, Deputy CEO and Director of Communications and Public Affairs, WAN-IFRA, 96 bis, rue Beaubourg, 75003 Paris France. Tel: +33 1 47 42 85 07. Fax: +33 1 42 78 92 33. Mobile: +33 6 10 28 97 36. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
and Barbara Trionfi, Press Freedom Manager, International Press Institute (IPI), Spiegelgasse 2, 1010 Vienna, Austria. Tel: +43 1 512 90 11. Fax: +43 1 512 90 14. E-mail: btrionfi@ freemedia.at