National: Several Organizations Express Concern over Freedom of Expression in Mexico

Freedom.png(@Reporters without Borders)

On March 12th, in Mexico City, Christophe Deloire, Secretary General of the organization Reporters Without Borders (RWB) held a meeting with the Assistant Secretary for Human Rights, Alejandro Encinas, and reported that he had gone to the International Criminal Court (ICC) ask it to intervene in Mexico given the murders of 102 journalists and the forced disappearance of 14 others that occurred between 2012 and 2018 in the country. In the text presented, it is argued why they should be classified as crimes against humanity, as stipulated in Article 7 of the Statute of Rome, which establishes the jurisdiction of the ICC.

Deloire told Encinas of the great concern of his organization because in Mexico there continue to be numerous murders and acts of violence against reporters, being one of the most dangerous in the world for the press; it is ranked 147 out of 180 countries in the World Press Freedom Ranking. In the first months of the government of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), three journalists have been murdered. In a subsequent press conference, he affirmed that “the mandate of President Andres Lopez Obrador must be marked by profound reforms in order to advance in the fight against impunity in which the murders and disappearances of journalists remain, as well as to improve the effectiveness of the protection mechanism for journalists, even in the states of the country where the situation is most difficult, so that journalists can work freely and disseminate all the information that is useful to Mexicans, for the country.”

For its part, the organization for freedom of expression Articulo 19 has expressed its concern over the fact that the new government has not pronounced on improvements in protection policies for journalists or presented clear actions to ensure that crimes committed against the press are investigated and punished: “The violence against the press did not end on July 1st nor in fact did it end on December 1st”, said Ana Cristina Ruselas, regional director of Articlulo 19. She also stated that “it is important and very necessary that the new government refuses to stigmatize the press, in a context like ours, the statements of the President of the Republic against the press only revive the violence and give guidelines to different individuals and different perpetuators to go against the press (…) The highest officials, including the President of the Republic, must expressly acknowledge the importance of the journalists, an express sanction to any type of aggression and a consequent fact that has to do with other State institutions of an investigation and sanction of this type of aggressions.”

Articulo 19 has documented that by using stigmatizing statements such as “conservative” [fifí] press and bribed journalists, AMLO might “legitimize and encourage attacks against journalists in the digital, in the physical physical and affect the plurality of public debate. This increases the level of vulnerability and risk faced by journalists in the most dangerous country to exercise freedom of expression in the Americas.” He demanded the head of state “unequivocally recognize the importance of a free press in democracy.”

In a similar vein, a study by Signa Lab of the Technological Institute of Higher Studies of the West (ITESO in its Spanish acronym) revealed that in recent months a trend in users related to the president in the social network Twitter emerged, whereby they carry out attacks against journalists and media critical to his mandate. The document “Democracy, freedom of expression and the digital sphere. Analysis of topologies on Twitter: the case # RedAMLOve” recommended “that there should be an official statement from the Presidency or from the Office of Social Communication of the same, to clarify what the position of the government against these online non-organic strategies is”. Signa Lab said that these actions “may result in critical voices, necessary in a democracy, retreating given the virulence of the attacks.”

When questioned about this study, the president denied that there is a group organized by the government to defend him from those who question or criticize him. He assured that the media will not be disrespected, freedom of expression will not be curtailed, “but we will exercise our right of reply.”

For more information in Spanish:

Reporteros Sin Fronteras denuncia ante la CPI crímenes contra periodistas en México (CNN México, 13 de marzo de 2019)

Dichos de AMLO incentivan ataques a la prensa, dice Artículo 19; Obrador niega bots a favor suyo (Vanguardia, 13 de marzo de 2019)

Impunidad de los crímenes contra periodistas en México: RSF anuncia su comunicación oficial a la Corte Penal Internacional (Reporteros sin fronteras, 12 de marzo de 2019)

En los primeros cien días de gobierno se ha intensificado la intolerancia a la crítica y al discurso disidente (Artículo 19, 12 de marzo de 2019)

Con AMLO van ya 3 periodistas asesinados y las acciones para protegerlos no aparecen: Art.19 (Sin Embargo, 9 de marzo de 2019)


For more information from SIPAZ:

International/National/Guerrero/Chiapas: More Attacks on Journalists; Articulo 19 and European Parliament Launch “By the Hand” Initiative to Protect Journalists at Risk (February 14, 2019)

National/International: UNHCHR Condemns Murders of Defenders and Journalists in Chiapas and Baja California and Questions Efficacy of Government Protection Mechanism (January 31, 2019)

Chiapas: Two Members of Movement for Welfare, Peace and Common Good of Amatan and Independent Revolutionary Campesino Movement Murdered (January 28, 2019)

National: Journalist Rafael Murua Murdered (January 28, 2019)

National: 161 Defenders and 40 Journalists Murdered in Last Presidential Term of Office (December 14, 2018)


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