Human rights report: Mexican government is complicit in violence against journalists

By Joseph Vavrus

Nearly 70 journalists have been killed in Mexico since 2000 and the the Mexican government is “complicit” in the crimes against media workers, according to a new report by PEN Canada and the International Human Rights Program (IHRP) at the University of Toronto, the Toronto Star reports.

The study, Corruption, Impunity, Silence: The War on Mexico’s Journalists, highlights the authorities' role in the human rights violations suffered by journalists, including laws that block reporters from uncovering corruption, the failure to investigate crimes against media workers, and direct attacks by security forces against members of the press.

Among the key findings are:
* There is impunity in more than 90% of crimes against journalists in Mexico.
* Although organized crime is responsible for the most violent incidents, reports show that Mexican security forces were responsible for 66% of the attacks in 2009.
*Libel and slander laws are used to harass journalists who report on corruption.
*Journalists’ vulnerability is enhanced by poor labor conditions including low wages and contracts that waive the workers’ right to sue in case of injury

The report, echoed by an editorial in Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper, calls on the Canadian government to “place the human rights protection of Mexican media workers on the foreign policy agenda, and recommends that it condition future foreign aid and government investment on implementation of effective mechanisms to protect journalists, ending impunity for crimes against them, and fostering a free and open press.”

Separately, on June 8, the Inter American Press Association (IAPA), urged the Mexican government to "employ stronger political will" to solve journalist killings. According to IAPA President Gonzalo Marroquín, “The Mexican authorities have to put forth their best efforts for justice to be done, because otherwise the principles of press freedom, free speech, and democracy will deteriorate further.”

The full PEN Canada and IHRP report is available in PDF form in English and Spanish.

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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.