Mexico’s press caught in a deadly cycle of violence and impunity

Justice for journalists should be priority for government

Mexico City, May 2, 2017–Despite federal government efforts to combat widespread violence that criminal gangs, corrupt officials, and cartels use to silence their critics, impunity in attacks on the press remains the norm in Mexico, the Committee to Protect Journalists found in a report released today. The report, “No Excuse: Mexico must break cycle of impunity in journalists’ murders,” finds that a lack of political will is allowing attacks against journalists to go unchecked.

Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for the press, with more than 50 cases of journalists and media workers killed or disappeared since 2010, according to CPJ data. Impunity in Mexico has more than doubled since the release of CPJ’s first impunity index in 2008 and when convictions do occur, they are often limited to the perpetrator and authorities fail to establish a motive.

“Though President Enrique Peña Nieto has condemned violence against journalists, failure to explicitly tie accountability to attacks on the press perpetuates a climate that leaves journalists open to attack,” said CPJ program director and Americas senior program coordinator Carlos Lauría. “Without strong political will from the federal government to combat inefficiencies in the judicial system and prioritize impunity in crimes against journalists, efforts to end the violence are doomed to fail.”

In its report, CPJ examines the cases of three journalists killed for their work, including two from Veracruz state, one of most lethal regions in the Western hemisphere for the press. Between 2010 and 2016, during former governor Javier Duarte de Ochoa’s administration, at least six journalists from Veracruz were murdered in direct retaliation for their work and three more went missing. CPJ is investigating the cases of at least 11 others to determine if they were killed for their journalism. The report also examines the effectiveness of mechanisms that Mexico implemented to try to combat violence against the press, including the special prosecutor’s office for crimes against freedom of expression (FEADLE), and a federal protection mechanism for journalists under threat.

The report was produced by CPJ’s Americas program and includes a foreword by Adela Navarro Bello, who is general director of Mexican magazine Zeta and a member of CPJ’s Americas Advisory Group.

CPJ will mark the launch of the report on World Press Freedom Day, tomorrow, with a panel to discuss its findings in Veracruz city. CPJ has also requested a meeting this week with President Peña Nieto; the president’s office has agreed and is trying to schedule the meeting.

Note to Editors:

No Excuse: Mexico must break cycle of impunity in journalists’ murders,” is available in English and Spanish.

For social media, CPJ suggests using the hashtag #PressFreedom.