Concern: Call to End Impunity for Killers of Journalists in Mexico
We are writing as the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the world’s largest organisation of media professionals representing over 600.000 members in more than 140 countries, to urge your government to address the issue of impunity for violence against journalists in Mexico.
The IFJ’s principal mandate is to promote and defend the rights of journalists, including the right to life and physical safety. In this regard, it constantly monitors violations of our members’ rights around the world and it publishes an annual report on journalists and media staff who are killed for no other reason than the legitimate practice of their profession.
To mark the UN’s International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, the IFJ has launched its annual campaign to ‘End Impunity for violence against journalists’, focusing on Mexico, Russia, Yemen, Somalia and India. The IFJ is mobilising its 187 affiliates worldwide to highlight the impunity in these countries. You can visit the campaign page here.
According to our records, 104 journalists have been killed in Mexico since 2010, including eleven killings so far in 2020. A big majority of these crimes remain unsolved.
These figures show that crime against journalists is widespread throughout Mexico. Violent attacks, threats, murders, disappearances, rapes and displacements of journalists affect large swathes of Mexico carried out overwhelmingly by criminal and paramilitary groups.
Despite the fact that the Mexican government has, for years, made efforts to end this violence and adopted dedicated mechanisms designed to protect journalists, such as the Law for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists and the Special Prosecutor's Office for Crimes against Freedom of Expression (FEADLE), crimes continued to grow. The creation of these mechanisms were important moves towards justice for crimes against journalists, but they need to be reinforced and improved so they can guarantee an effective protection to our colleagues.
It will be also critical to improve funding for the Protection Mechanism for human rights defenders and journalists in order to increase its efficiency.
Besides the killings, Mexico is also - according to the National Human Rights Commission - a country with alarming numbers of missing reporters: between 2005 and 2019, 21 journalists were reported missing. Such is the case of journalist Agustín Silva Vázquez from newspaper “El Sol de Istmo” who was reported missing on 21 January 2018 and whose car was found the following day.
At the same time, other state authorities, such as the judiciary, fail year after year to provide victims and their families with any kind of justice or reparation. Among killed journalists whose killers remain unpunished are the emblematic cases of Javier Valdez, well known for his reporting on drug trafficking, who was killed on 15 May 2017 . Impunity also remains in the case of Regina Martínez Pérez in April 2012, who worked for daily Proceso.
The killing of Miroslava Breach on 23 March 2017, who reported on organised crime, drug trafficking and corruption, is one of the few cases that has ended with killers being sentenced. Mexican media and human rights organisations described the sentence as "historic" and "emblematic" because it was the first trial for the murder of a woman journalist to be tried at the federal level which delivered a guilty verdict. This verdict proved that, with the needed political will, crimes against journalists can be punished and victims’ families compensated.
For all of these reasons, together with the IFJ and its affiliate in Mexico, the Sindicato Nacional de Redactores de la Prensa (SNRP), we demand your government, judiciary and law enforcement agencies to reinforce the existing mechanism to protect media workers and undertake complete and effective investigations of all violations of journalists’ rights and bring to justice the perpetrators of crimes against journalists.
We urge your government to dispel the impression of indifference in the face of deadly assaults against journalists in Mexico. There is so much more that can be done with a genuine commitment to fighting impunity. It needs to start with justice for the victims of violence.
IFJ General Secretary