As Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reports on its website, two more murders in August have brought the number of journalists killed in connection with their work in Mexico in 2019 to at least ten, confirming Mexico’s status as the world’s deadliest country for the media. In the absence of a strong reaction from the government, RSF offers its recommendations on how to address this extreme level of violence and the almost total impunity.
More than 90% of the crimes of violence against journalists in Mexico go unpunished, fuelling the vicious cycle of violence and impunity. It was for this reason that, in March 2019, RSF asked the International Criminal Court to look into the impunity for murders and disappearances of journalists from 2006 to 2018, under President López Obrador’s two predecessors, Felipe Calderón and Enrique Peña Nieto.
In response to the surge in the number of journalists murdered in 2019, RSF has provided the Mexican authorities, including the president’s office, with its recommendations on the measures that need to be taken.
RSF recommends that the Mexican authorities should:
1) Reinforce journalists’ safety:
– By improving the effectiveness and response time of the Federal Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, increasing its human and financial resources and enhancing its role in preventing risks, especially in the most dangerous states.
– By rapidly implementing the recommendations of the “Diagnosis of the Functioning of the Mechanism”, that the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights gave to the Mexican authorities on 29 July and made public on August 26.
– By implementing a general policy for taking care of journalists and family members who are the victims of forced displacement.
2) Reinforce investigative resources
Given that the Special Prosecutor’s Office for Crimes against Freedom of Expression (FEADLE) will soon be incorporated into a new Special Prosecutor’s Office for Human Rights, there is an urgent need to:
– Reinforce the FEADLE’s prerogatives and its human and financial resources.
– Quickly release the new guidelines for FEADLE investigations into crimes of violence against journalists and explain how the FEADLE’s decisions can be appealed.
– Encourage the FEADLE to make full use of its power under article 21 of the criminal code to transfer investigations into crimes against freedom of expression from the local to the federal level. RSF is of the view that this power should be used without delay in three of this year’s murder cases, those of Ruíz, Sarabia and Romero.
– Ensure that the new Approved Protocol for Investigating Crimes against Freedom of Expression, adopted in October 2018, is effectively applied.
– Ensure that the new Special Prosecutor’s Office for Human Rights – of which the FEADLE will be a section – quickly establishes close contacts with civil society organizations in order to discuss the new goals and challenges.
Mexico is ranked 144th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.