Mexico: Impunity for attacks on the press

Freedom House’s Freedom of the Press 2014 report on the conditions journalists face in Mexico,

Impunity for attacks on the press can be attributed in large part to a combination of state and local authorities’ ineptitude and their involvement with or fear of organized crime groups. Federal authorities are not fully trusted by journalists either, though federal prosecutors can claim more professionalism and distance from the corruption and threats that impede subnational officials. Statutes that took effect in May implemented a 2012 constitutional reform empowering
the Office of the Federal Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Free Expression. Prior to the implementing regulations, the office had lacked the authority to assert jurisdiction over cases and had achieved just one conviction in six years. Despite the changes, Special Prosecutor Laura Borbolla was initially hesitant to claim jurisdiction without state officials’ approval. By August
her office had taken on only one homicide case, the 2008 murder of El Diario de Juárez police reporter Armando Rodríguez Carreón.

According to Human Rights Watch, another federal program, the Protection Mechanism for Journalists and Human Rights Defenders, was “seriously undermined by a lack of funds and political support at all levels of government.” Journalists and human rights defenders who sought risk assessment and protection measures faced long delays and inadequate safeguards. Some journalists do benefit from the program, such as Emilio Lugo, editor of the Agoraguerrero news website, who was relocated from Guerrero after his investigations and criticisms of state
authorities resulted in threats. Although there is no confirmed count of Mexican journalists in exile, tenuous security conditions have prompted several to leave the country. Verónica Basurto, an investigative television reporter in Mexico City, criticized the federal protection process as inadequate and fled to Europe after receiving multiple threats. Miguel Ángel López, whose
journalist father and brother were murdered in Veracruz in 2011, received asylum in the United States in June.

In our hemisphere, Mexico, Honduras, Cuba, Venezuela and Ecuador do not have a free press.


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