18 January 2010
More murders in Mexico, giving rise to projects and solutions
The Mexican government fails to understand its responsibility to investigate and seek justice in cases of the murder of journalists, an attitude that encourages those who resort to violence to continue their crime wave against the press, which makes Mexico the most violent country in the Americas to work in as a journalist.
The Mexican government fails to understand its responsibility to investigate and seek justice in cases of the murder of journalists, an attitude that encourages those who resort to violence to continue their crime wave against the press, which makes Mexico the most violent country in the Americas to work in as a journalist. This weekend one learned of José Luis Romero of Los Mochis, in Sinaloa state, the second journalist to be murdered in 2010. In 2009 at least 11 journalists were killed, they being in nearly all cases this year and last victims of drug traffickers. Some of them were not murdered in reprisal for what they had said or failed to say, but for not having complied with what had previously been agreed with the drug traffickers. Regrettably, the illicit drug trade has also infiltrated information structures. The press is not uninvolved in the temptations and corruption that are moving into very many disciplines, in search of accomplices and in a bid to extend territory. The IAPA has been battling hand-to-hand in this area for 15 years now. The few results that the various governments have produced during this time those of Salinas, Zedillo, Fox and Calderón have often been disappointing. The authorities have not taken the issue of freedom of the press with the seriousness it requires, perhaps because the local media have not known how to create a common front that would put more consistent pressure on the political leaders. The fever to seek extenuating circumstances for this exasperating violence against the media and journalists has been sporadic and intermittent. The IAPA has organized national, regional and hemisphere-wide conferences in Mexico and has been fighting for crimes against journalists to be made federal offenses, that such offenses be regarded as aggravated, that there be no statute of limitations in such cases, and the creation of special prosecutors offices and systems of protection. All this not in search of privileges for the press over other disciplines that suffer even more from the violence of organized crime the police and the military, for example but rather creating awareness that when a journalist is killed the worst crime is committed against the publics right to receive information, thus extraordinarily weakening democracy. Many other groups have supported these initiatives and suggested others. Last week three senators from the major opposition group PRI Mario López Valdez, Fernando Castro Trenti and Carlos Lozano de la Torre tabled a legislative bill on High Risk Journalism. In its Article 3 the bill seeks to declare crimes against journalists federal offenses in saying, The threats, intimidations, attacks upon and murder of journalists, as well as attacks upon news media premises, seizure of materials, journalistic equipment and damage to digitalized information are regarded as serious federal offenses. Article 5 seeks the creation of a Committee that existed last year but which the newly-installed Congress that took office in December 2009 put to one side. The Mexican Congress will have the Two-Chamber Committee for Following Up and Dealing With Crimes Against Journalists and News Media, which shall appoint as observers two representatives of the news media and two representatives of organized journalists, it says. Article 6 while referring to the Special Prosecutors Office comes up somewhat short, as the IAPA has for some years been requesting that this entity be restructured because it lacks prosecution functions but rather acts as a human rights office with no formal ability to investigate and lay charges. The article states, The Special Prosecutors Office for Dealing With Crimes Committed Against Journalists of the Mexican Attorney Generals Office will have to present a report on progress and results to the Mexican Congresss Two-Chamber Committee on Following Up and Dealing With Crimes Against Journalists and News Media every three months. Also on a positive note, last Friday it was learned that the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Mexico, Alberto Brunoroi, had said, It will be sought in Mexico to have adopted the Colombian model of protection of activists and journalists, two of the sector most beset by violence in the country, the EFE news agency reported. We have come to present a means of protection for defenders of human rights and journalists, we have reviewed various models and in particular we believe that the Colombian model is the indicated one, Brunori said in an interview he gave in Ciudad Juárez. Brunori, according to EFE, announced that on February 11 and 12 a seminar will be held in Mexico with experts from the Colombian government, civil society and the press to tell the Mexican authorities how the Colombian model can be adapted to the situation in Mexico regarding protection of journalists and activists.