At the morning press conference on March 25th, the president of Mexico, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) and the Undersecretary of Human Rights, Migration and Population of the Ministry of the Interior, Alejandro Encinas, presented their diagnosis of the functioning of the mechanism of protection for journalists and human rights defenders, and announced new measures.
Regarding the functioning to date, Encinas acknowledged several deficiencies, among them, its bureaucratic and fundamentally reactive nature: “the preventive part is not taken care of not only of those who are subject to the Protection Mechanism, but journalists defenders in general”, he stressed. He also presented as a limitation the fact that the person in charge of “all the application of the mechanisms for each one of the persons who are subject to protection and who report deficiencies in the operation, particularly in their technological equipment and in their personnel” is a private company.
He said that the services of the company will be maintained, but “under a much more direct control mechanism” until the State can assume this responsibility “that cannot be delegated to a private person … We will rethink everything, which will even involve a saving of at least 15%, more than 30 million pesos currently channeled to a private company”, he explained.
He also questioned the use of panic buttons: “Of the 792 buttons, 209 of the users have turned off the button for more than 150 days a year; 100 more have it off between 61 and 150 days of the year. And although an important number, 230, have it on practically permanently, it is very unequally used.”
Currently, there are 790 beneficiaries of the mechanism: 292 journalists and 498 human rights defenders. Since December 1st (when AMLO came to power) to date there have been six murders of journalists, of which only one was under the protection of the mechanism, and in four cases there have been arrests. In the case of the defenders, nine homicides have been reported and only two have been clarified.
For more information in Spanish:
Mecanismo de protección a periodistas y defensores es reactivo, no preventivo: Encinas (Proceso, 25 de marzo de 2019)
Presenta AMLO mecanismo de protección para periodistas (Video; Aristegui Noticias, 25 de marzo de 2019)
El Gobierno anterior entregó a empresa privada la protección de periodistas y defensores: Encinas (Sin Embargo, 25 de marzo de 2019)
AMLO reconoce el asesinato de seis periodistas y ocho defensores en lo que va de su gobierno (Proceso, 25 de marzo de 2019)
For more information from SIPAZ:
National: Federal Mechanism for Journalists and Defenders without Funding (October 14, 2018)