Mexican journalists vs. security forces

While organized criminals and drug traffickers account for the bulk of attacks against Mexican journalists, CPJ has documented an increasing number of assaults committed by security forces. Just last week, this reality was brought into sharp focus with the accusation by a reporter that he had been roughed up by the military.

Jorge Inzunza Bustillos, a crime reporter for the Culiacán-based daily Sol de Sinaloa, said he was was harassed and beaten by the Mexican army on August 4 while covering a shooting in the western city of Culiacán. One year earlier, in August 2007, four journalists were held by troops while covering a military convoy in Monclova, in the state of Coahuila. One of the reporters told CPJ that he had been beaten and aggressively questioned by soldiers before being turned over to the state attorney general’s office. The journalists were initially charged with possession of firearms and drug-related crimes, but exonerated by a federal judge a month later.

In February, federal agents detained and assaulted a photographer who was photographing a fatal car accident involving police in the eastern state of Veracruz. Federal agents also allegedly assaulted three reporters working for the Culiacán-based daily El Debate in May as they were reporting on a roadside checkpoint.

Emma Quiroz, spokeswoman for the Culiacán-Navolato military operations, told CPJ that she knew about Inzunza’s attack through media reports. After CPJ issued an alert on the incident, Quiroz called again and said that “the army had no reports of any journalist being mistreated.”

“If we receive an official complaint, we will investigate,” said Quiroz. She reiterated that all military operations are conducted “with respect for human rights and freedom of expression.”