Mexico: The western hemisphere’s deadliest country for journalists

Bad news

 

Reporters Sans Frontières recently unveiled the annual ranking of countries in terms of press freedom. The award-winning non-governmental organization headquartered in France highlighted a “decline on all fronts” in this year’s instalment.

Mexico, a country with over 121 million of inhabitants, home of both, the largest mass media company in Latin America and arguably the richest man on Earth, is ranked #148 out in 180 countries in the World Press Freedom Index (published yearly since 2002). This distressing low score has led the NGO to emphasize the violence and impunity journalists face on a daily basis:

This was the western hemisphere’s deadliest country for journalists in 2014 (for murders directly linked to media work). Murders, kidnappings, physical attacks and threats go almost entirely unpunished, fuelling fear and self-censorship.

Such adverse landscape can be corroborated with the murder of journalists and citizen journalists in the eastern states of Mexico, reported last year.

Reporters Without Borders recorded three cases in Mexico of journalists killed as a direct result of their work, compared with two in 2013.

The so-called war on drug cartels launched by Mexican government in 2006 has sparked violence and corruption in the country, leading to a weakening of justice and human rights:

Collusion between organized crime and certain politicians and local officials hampers good governance and justice at all levels. The federal mechanisms for protecting human rights defenders and journalists are not effective or rapid enough to meet the needs of endangered journalists.

In this hostile environment for press freedom, the NGO pointed out the lack of pluralism in the country’ main media platform (television):

The media landscape suffers from a lack of pluralism in the TV sector and the vulnerability of community radio stations, which are often denied legal frequencies and are subject to persecution.

On the bright side, Mexico actually climbed 4 places in the ranking since last year. Nevertheless it is below other countries at conflict such as Afghanistan (#122) and Myanmar (#144), and way below than neighboring Costa Rica (#16).

Methodology on this sort of work is always the subject of controversy. This year, Reporters Sans Frontières stated the method changed to better adapt all the situations that “journalists, news media and bloggers may have to face”. Still the index is made out of a questionnaire answered by correspondents, partner organizations and even jurists and human rights defenders, according to the NGO.

This particular approach based on individual perceptions might not satisfy all analysts, considering 10% of the respondents are foreign correspondents in the country they evaluate, as noticed by Deutsche Welle.

For the time being, the specialized prosecutor for crimes against freedom of expression[1] (a branch in the Office of the Mexican Attorney-General) has not issued any statement, regarding the 2015 World Press Freedom Index.

February 12th, 2015.

 

TRC

[1] In Spanish: Fiscal Especial para la Atención de Delitos Cometidos en Contra de la Libertad de Expresión.

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