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JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

Mexican police, military responsible for most attacks on press, says upcoming report




Most attacks against the Mexican press come from police and military, and authorities are collaborating with organized crime by not investigating or punishing cases that harm freedom of expression, according to several Mexican media reporting on an upcoming study titled "Forced Silence: The State, Accomplice in Violence Against the Press in Mexico." The report is to be released by the press freedom organization Article 19 on Tuesday, March 20, in Mexico City.

According to the report, agencies in charge of keeping public order are responsible for one in every three attacks on the press. Such agencies include state, federal, and city police, as well as the military, according to the newspaper El Mañana. The report says that security forces have committed 131 of the 170 attacks against journalists and news media between 2009 and 2011, and the main victims of security force attacks were photographers and cameramen, in 72 cases, reported El Mañana.

In contrast, organized crime is responsible for one in every seven assaults against the press, reported the newspaper Vanguardia. Still, organized crime is responsible for the worst violations: 12 of the 27 killings of journalists, two of the four cases of kidnapping, as well as 24 armed attacks on news media with explosives (the majority occurred in the northern states of Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas), said Mexican journalist Lydia Cacho in the newspaper El Universal.

The report also claims that authorities undervalue journalists by associating them with organized crime or attributing violence to crimes of passion, reported Vanguardia. The report also says that the Prosecution Office for Attention to Crimes Against Freedom of Expression was ineffective during the six years of its existence since it has had four different leaders during this time, used just four percent of its budget on precautionary measures, prosecuted only 27 cases, and obtained only one conviction, according to Vanguardia.

Journalist Ricardo Raphael, assistant director for the newspaper El Universal, said that 99 percent of the cases presented to the Special Prosecutor have not been resolved. According to his investigations, the Special Prosecutor relied on a $158,300 budget five years ago, and last year its budget diminished to a fourth of that amount. “Why this budget cut if the problems have only risen?” he wrote in his column on Monday, March, 19.

Mexico is considered the most dangerous country in the world for journalism and attacks against the press have risen since Felipe Calderón's presidency and his war on organized crime that initiated at the end of 2006. See this map regarding attacks on journalists and news media in Mexico.



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