Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, left, pledged in a meeting with a CPJ delegation, right, to prioritize ending impunity and keeping journalists safe. (Los Pinos)

Mexican president pledges to prioritize journalist safety and combat impunity

May 4, 2017 7:01 PM ET

Mexico City, May 4, 2017-- Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto today pledged to prioritize combating impunity in the murders of journalists for the remainder of his term, which ends next year. He said the safety and protection of journalists would also be a priority.

Peña Nieto told a visiting delegation from the Committee to Protect Journalists that his government is committed to following up on investigations into attacks on the press, and guaranteed to fund for a federal protection mechanism which would have run out of money in October.

The 90-minute meeting at Los Pinos, the president's official residence, was part of a mission to Mexico by CPJ to launch its report "No Excuse," which calls on the government to do more to break the cycle of impunity which plagues the Mexican press. CPJ launched the report yesterday with a press conference in the eastern port city of Veracruz. The state of Veracruz is one of the deadliest regions for journalists in the Western hemisphere.

Mexico is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist with at least 40 journalists killed because of their work and an additional 50 murders in which the motive is so far unconfirmed.

"We welcome President Pena Nieto's commitment to break this murderous cycle and ensure that journalists under threat will be protected," CPJ Americas Program Coordinator Carlos Lauría said after the meeting. "The government and the criminal justice system must now follow through on the president's pledges."

The CPJ delegation expressed concern about the poor record of the office of the federal prosecutor in successfully investigating crimes against freedom of expression. In response, Attorney General Raul Cervantes Andrade, who also attended the meeting, said authorities were "looking to replace" federal prosecutor Ricardo Najera "with someone experienced who will have the support and recognition of (freedom of expression) organizations."

Turning to Mexico's record on impunity, the president said judicial reform is underway and he acknowledged that more work was urgently needed.

"We need to consolidate the new justice system but this is not an excuse," Peña Nieto said.

Besides Lauría, the delegation comprised CPJ board member Jonathan Klein of Getty Images and CPJ Mexico Correspondent Jan-Albert Hootsen.

The president was accompanied by the Attorney General, Secretary of the Interior Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, Undersecretary for Human Rights Roberto Campa, and other officials.

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