Press Freedom Day

Allowing cases of murdered journalists in Mexico to go unpunished is sending the message that freedom of expression can be easily silenced

Press Freedom Day
Protesters demanding no more violence against journalists in Monterrey - Photo: Julio Aguilar/EL UNIVERSAL
English 03/05/2018 09:06 Mexico City Newspaper Leader by EL UNIVERSAL Actualizada 09:08

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This fact says it all: 23 arrest warrants have been issued since 2017 to date against suspected murderers of journalists. Out of these 23 suspects, 16 have been arrested but thus far no sentences have been passed. Crimes committed against Mexican journalists are still unpunished.

Today is the World Press Freedom Day and thus it's vital to review the situation in our country and state once more the demands news outlets have previously made.

According to the National Human Rights Commission, between 2010 and 2017 a total of 78 journalists were murdered, 12 of them last year alone. So far this year, three have been murdered: Carlos Domínguez, Pamela Montenegro, and Leobardo Vázquez. By state, Veracruz, Oaxaca, Tamaulipas, Guerrero, Chihuahua, and Sinaloa are the states with the highest number of cases.

Moreover, due to other circumstances, each year Mexican journalists file close to 350 complains denouncing their right to freedom of expression has been violated, out of which 45% and 50% involve death threats while the rest are filed for abuse of authority, injuries, and damaged to property.

For the national press, particularly those working outside larger cities, their biggest threat is organized crime but the intimidation they suffer at the hands of powerful groups – both political and economic – seeking to restrict their work is also evident. Those who denounce the corruption of governors or businessmen need adequate protection – which hasn't yet been provided accordingly.

Journalists cannot be left alone in their call for justice and the support of civil society organization and human rights advocates, both national and foreign, is invaluable. These attacks are almost widespread across Latin America. Mutual assistance can help to spread this situation abroad.

The costs of having a restricted freedom of expression, or not having it, can be very high for any country. The excesses all governments are prone to will always be fewer if news outlets, in print or digital, investigate and give their opinions without restriction or pressure. Allowing cases of murdered journalists in Mexico to go unpunished is sending the message that freedom of expression can be easily silenced.

It's an urgent obligation of the corresponding authorities to address attacks against journalists.