Mexican Human Rights Commission notes lack of commitment from government to end impunity in crimes against journalists

The lack of commitment on the part of the federal and state prosecutors of Mexico and other authorities to follow the recommendations given by the National Commission of Human Rights (CNDH, for its initials in Spanish) is the reason for the "prevailing impunity" in attacks against journalists, the human rights organization said.

During the presentation of the chapter 'Persecution of journalists' from "Studies on the compliance and impact of the general recommendations, special reports and pronouncements of the CNDH 2001-2017,” CNDH president, Luis Raúl González Pérez, urged the authorities "to show the political will to defend journalists."

The CNDH asked the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) to analyze how the recommendations given by the CNDH have been taken into account by the country's authorities, how quickly they have responded and how they have been implemented.

In the specific case of attacks on journalists, violations of freedom of expression and impunity in these attacks, four general recommendations given during 2004, 2009, 2013 and 2016 were studied.

These recommendations touched on the journalist’s right to source confidentiality, the need to heal aggrieved journalists or media, punish public servants or criminal gangs responsible for the attacks, decriminalize the so-called crimes against honor and respond in a specific way to the aggressions against women journalists, among others.

According to the study, in more than 60 percent of the three most recent recommendations, responses arrived between one week and six months after the lawful deadline of 30 working days, Aristegui News reported. In three cases, the response came a year after the recommendation was issued.

In 19 percent of the cases, the response summarizes what the CNDH has already said, "as a memory exercise, surely," González explained. And 33 percent demonstrate follow-up on a case or on the implementation of these recommendations, although they are not specific about how this implementation has been made, the CNDH president added.

The report also gives an account of the shortcomings in the Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders and Journalists and the Special Prosecutor's Office for Attention to Crimes against Freedom of Expression (Feadle) at the moment.

"In 6 years, the only thing (the Feadle) has achieved is to sit on an accumulated 900 preliminary investigations opened for crimes against journalists, of which only 2 have culminated in convictions, maybe 3, no more than 4,” says a part of the report based on an essay by journalist Jade Ramírez Cuevas.

Regarding the Protection Mechanism, reference is made to the few resources that have been granted to it, and the possibility that the resources that sustain it will not be available after October of this year.

"We make a new call to the authorities to equip themselves with these resources. I want to remember that the Mechanism is supported by a 2012 law. That is, to comply with the law," Gonzalez said in the presentation.

Ana Ruelas, director of Article 19 Mexico who was at the presentation of the report, considered that it is precisely very difficult to make this Mechanism sustainable if there are more and more journalists to protect, as a result of the high rate of impunity.

For Ruelas, the numbers in this report that reflect this small commitment of the authorities not only to respond to the recommendations but also to their implementation, show the reality of journalists.

"It shows us a reality of how aggressions against journalists are increasing, how impunity of 99.6 percent in attacks on journalists is reflected by the indolence of a State that does not recognize violence to freedom of expression as a problem of State," Ruelas said during the presentation of the report.

It’s an aspect in which González agrees. "It seems that public policy is toward more aggression, nascent attention," he said.

For González, however, the report also aims to improve the CNDH as an institution. For example, working on making recommendations that they give to the authorities more visible with different mechanisms such as diversifying sources or changing scenarios when making them public, among others.

In this report "we want to see the impact, but also to correct ourselves. Strengthen what we have to strengthen," González said.

The report is available on the CNDH website, and has six journalists' essays on violence, as well as interviews and responses to requests for information from federal, state and municipal authorities.