It was only after the sixth murder of a journalist since the start of the year and after protests erupted in several cities that Peña Nieto finally announced a series of concrete measures to provide journalists with more protection and to combat impunity for crimes of violence against them. This pledge comes late in the game, but is nevertheless welcome and necessary given the serious violence that journalists in the country are facing
“Every crime against a journalist is an attack on freedom of expression and on society as whole,” Peña Nieto said at a meeting of 24 Mexican state governors and other senior officials. “As president, I assure you that we will act with firmness to arrest and punish those responsible.
Among other measures, RSF notes that he announced plans to reinforce the Federal Mechanism for Protecting Human Rights Defenders and Journalists and the Special Prosecutor’s Office for Crimes against Freedom of Expression (FEADLE). He also announced plans to establish a national protocol for investigating crimes of violence against journalists and for looking after the victims.
The government should also facilitate the joint official visit of to the UN and Inter-American Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, that have reiterated their request last April to the Mexican State and are still waiting for a response from the authorities.
“We welcome the undertakings given by President Peña Nieto and we expect them to be followed up by action,” said Balbina Flores, RSF’s representative in Mexico. “We will remain vigilant and will closely monitor the implementation of the announced measures, which are very urgent, given the terrible violence to which journalists have been exposed for more than a decade.”
No fewer than 27 journalists have been murdered in connection with their work during Peña Nieto’s term as president, which began in December 2012. Since 2010, the FEADLE has received 798 complaints about serious physical violence against journalists, 47 of them murders. Only three of the complaints have resulted in convictions and sentences. The impunity is almost total.
Mexico is ranked 147th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index. In a report published in February, entitled “Veracruz: journalists and the state of fear,” RSF provided the federal and local authorities with a series of recommendations for ending the spiral of violence.