The International Federation of Journalists today warned that encouraging journalists to carry guns would only make life more dangerous for reporters who are being targeted by criminals in Mexico following news yesterday that radio reporter Guadalupe Garcia Escamilla, who was gunned down outside a Nuevo Laredo radio station 10 days ago, had died of her injuries.
“It is irresponsible for public officials to suggest journalists start carrying guns. This will only increase bloodshed,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “The police and public authorities should find the killers and bring them to justice, not add to the fear and mayhem that is overtaking journalism in the region.”
The IFJ was responding to a statement by Mexico’s Secretary of Public Security for the state of Tamaulipas, Luis Gutiérrez Flores, who said that following recent attacks, reporters in the increasingly lawless border region of northern Mexico should seek permission to carry weapons if they feel threatened.
The shooting of Garcia Escamilla was one of a number of recent attacks against journalists in the region. The authorities are investigating the killing of Raul Gibb Guerrero, a newspaper editor shot dead on April 8th and they are following up the disappearance of Alfredo Jimenez, a reporter covering the narcotics trade for the newspaper El Imparcial de Hermosillo in Sonora state who vanished earlier this month.
“We welcome news that the Public Safety Secretary Ramon Huerta says he plans a system whereby federal, state and local authorities will better assist journalists facing threats from traffickers and criminal gangs,” said Aidan White. “But we don’t accept the suggestion that arming journalists will do anything other than make matters worse.”
The IFJ says that the situation for journalists in northern Mexico was now worse than in Colombia which, for the past ten years, has been the most dangerous region for journalists trying to report on the illicit narcotics trade. Last year the IFJ recorded 5 killings in Mexico and 4 in Colombia.
“The killers are the same, drug-running thugs and gangsters trying to intimidate media into silence,” said White. “But the scene is shifting. The Mexican authorities must do more to end these attacks beyond trying to put guns into the hands of reporters.”
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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries