Mexican official confirms that disappeared journalist is under government protection

By Liliana Honorato

A Mexican official confirmed that journalist Stephania Cardoso is currently under the protection of the federal government, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reported Friday, June 22.

Cardoso, a police reporter for the city of Saltillo’s newspaper Zócalo, disappeared with her two-year-old son under strange circumstances on June 8. One week after her disappearance, the journalist called a radio program to say that she and her son were alive and to request protection from Mexico’s federal authorities.

Shortly after the phone call, Mexican President Felipe Calderón announced via his Twitter account that the journalist would receive protection through the federal prosecutor's office, the news agency Notimex said.

The special prosecutor for crimes against freedom of expression at the Attorney General's Office, Laura Angelina Borbolla Moreno, told CPJ that the current location of the journalist and her son could not be revealed due to security issues. Borbolla also said that Cardoso had apparently been threatened by criminals, but declined making any comments about the possible motives, CPJ said.

Mexico is the world’s most dangerous place for journalists. With the recent disappearances of journalists Federico Manuel García Contreras and Zane Plemmons, 17 journalists have disappeared since 2003, and 84 journalists have been killed in one decade, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF). In the state of Coahuila alone, where Cardoso lived, 1,800 people have disappeared in the last three years, RSF said. For more information, see this map about attacks against the press in Mexico, created by the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas.

Due to the amount of danger that Mexican journalists face on a daily basis, on Friday, June 22, President Calderón signed a new law to protect journalists. The law aims to establish a Fund for the Protection of Human Rights Advocates and Journalists with federal funding to protect journalists and activists who have been threatened for their work.

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.