89% of attacks against Mexican journalists remain in impunity, human rights commission says

By Samantha Badgen

Only 19 percent of all registered cases of journalists’ homicides and disappearances have been heard by a judge and only 10 percent of those have ended in a sentencing, leaving Mexico’s impunity index at 89 percent, according to the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) in a press release on April 20.

From 2000 until today the CNDH has registered the deaths of 88 journalists or press workers, presumably killed because of their job. From 2005 until now there have been 20 disappearances of journalists, and 41 attacks on media installations since 2006.

“These constitute acts that endanger human rights to life, integrity and personal security, as well as freedom of expression,” the CNDH said in their press release.

In addition, through the CNDH's program to assist journalists and human rights defenders, the government agency has received 347 complaints related to the violation of human rights committed against journalists in the last four years. The state with the highest number of cases is Chihuahua, with 16, followed by Veracruz with 14, Tamaulipas with 13 and Guerrero with 11.

CNDH also highlighted that the authorities in charge of public safety have not succeeded in stopping the attacks or developing public policies to prevent these crimes, which the organization said contributed to the impunity.

“In August 2013, the CNDH sent in their general recommendation No. 20, in which it warned that impunity is a consequence of authorities not fulfilling their duty to investigate and gather evidence to get to the truth of the committed crimes against press workers, like homicides, disappearances, attacks, injuries, threats or intimidations, among others,” the press release said.

In the same recommendation the organization had also asked several governmental agencies to guarantee safety conditions to enable journalists to practice their craft without being threatened by any circumstances, especially for those who cover high-risk zones or situations, in addition to asking for an effective public security system to dissuade attacks against journalists.

In the last two years, Mexico has maintained its spot in the seventh position at the Committee to Protect Journalists' impunity index. 

In a similar manner, Mexico occupied the 152nd place out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders' annual Press Freedom Index.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.