Committee to Protect Journalists: ‘Silence or Death in Mexico’s Press’

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From the Summary:

Violence against the press has swept the nation and destroyed Mexicans’ right to freedom of expression. This national crisis demands a full-scale federal response.The Committee to Protect Journalists prepared this report to highlight the alarming problem of impunity in attacks on the press in Mexico. CPJ’s analysis points to systemic failures that if left unaddressed will further erode freedom of expression and the rule of law. Vital national and international interests are at stake.

Attacks on journalists endanger the nation

Twenty-two journalists have been murdered since President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa took office in December 2006, at least eight in direct reprisal for reporting on crime and corruption. Three media support workers have been slain and at least seven other journalists have gone missing during this period. In addition, dozens of journalists have been attacked, kidnapped, or forced into exile.

Systemic impunity has taken root at the state and local levels where most anti-press crimes are investigated. The criminal justice system has failed to successfully prosecute more than 90 percent of press-related crimes over the last decade, CPJ research shows. Mexico is ranked ninth-worst worldwide on CPJ’s Impunity Index, which calculates the number of unsolved journalist murders as a percentage of a country’s population.

In case after case, CPJ has found negligent work by state prosecutors and police. Authorities have used unlawful methods, including coercion of witnesses and fabrication of evidence, on several occasions. Complicity between police and criminals is so common that many people interviewed by CPJ see the justice system as being controlled by the criminals. Pervasive self-censorship is a debilitating product of this lawlessness. News outlets, fearful of reprisals, are abandoning not only investigative reporting but basic daily coverage of crime and corruption.

The federal government has only intermittently recognized anti-press violence as a national problem. In 2006, under the presidency of Vicente Fox, the government created a federal special prosecutor’s office to investigate crimes against the press. Although the office was initially considered a step forward in combating impunity, it has proved ineffective.

CPJ believes the federal government must intervene directly to guarantee the right of free expression enshrined in the Mexican Constitution. Journalists themselves must contribute more to this effort. Reporters and editors have been corrupted by the same drug cartels that have infiltrated nearly every sector of society. And Mexico’s polarized media have yet to unify behind a set of principles to protect the nation’s journalists.

Read Full Report (English – pdf)

Read Full Report – (Español – pdf)

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