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JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

Mexican president pledges to work to fight impunity in cases of violence against journalists



Following the call of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) to take stricter measures to end impunity in violence against journalists, the president of that country, Enrique Peña Nieto, promised to make the issue one of the priorities of what remains of his administration.

On May 4, the President met with CPJ representatives at the official residence of Los Pinos, in Mexico City, where he said that the security and protection of journalists will be a priority during the 19 months that are left of his government.

The committee's visit was made in the context of the launch of its report "No Excuse: Mexico must break the cycle of impunity in journalists’ murders," which was presented in the Mexican state of Veracruz, on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, where at least six journalists have been killed for their work between 2010 and 2016.

According to CPJ, Peña Nieto guaranteed the financing of the Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, a program started in 2012 to provide protection to individuals who suffer aggression or threats because of their journalistic work or activism.

The mechanism received no resources for 2017, so on April 16 the National Human Rights Commission of Mexico (CNDH for its acronym in Spanish) called on Congress and the Ministry of Finance to allocate resources to the program. Otherwise, some of its beneficiaries may be left unprotected.

CPJ said Mexico is among the countries where journalists are most at risk because of their work. At least 40 journalists have been killed since 1992 for reasons directly related to their work, while in 50 cases the motive has not been confirmed, according the organization’s records.

Attorney General Raúl Cervantes, who was present at the meeting, said authorities contemplated the possibility of replacing the head of the Special Prosecutor's Office for Crimes Against Freedom of Expression (Feadle) given poor results of cases of crimes against freedom of expression.

Of the 48 cases of aggression against journalists that Feadle has taken on since 2010, only three convictions have been made, according to what the Human Rights official of the PGR told the Mexican Congress in April.

As far as Enrique Peña Nieto's term is concerned, 31 journalists have been killed, according to the non-profit organization Article 19 Mexico.

[Ed. note: Organizations have different criteria for including a journalist’s death in their official records, and for determining whether their death was related to their work as a journalist. For this reason, numbers vary.]

President Peña Nieto acknowledged that they needed to work more urgently on reforming the Mexican judicial system to end impunity.

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

In a statement from the Mexican Presidency, Peña Nieto said that organizations such as CPJ "are important allies to improve the conditions of communicators and ensure the full exercise of freedom of expression."

He also said that the recommendations that the committee presented in the "No Excuse" report will be of great value in defining the steps to be taken by his administration.



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