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WAN-IFRA has this week published a report called “a death threat to freedom”, which looks at “violence against Mexico’s press”.
The report was published on Tuesday (4 September), a day after the organisation’s World Editors Forum presented the Golden Pen of Freedom to Mexican journalist Anabel Hernandez.
The report calls on the government to “take urgent action to guarantee the safety of journalists and media professionals”.
Receiving her award yesterday, Hernandez urged the international community to not “just stand and watch”.
“I do not want to be another number on the list,” she said. “I do not want to be another dead journalist, I want to be one of those who fought to live and who survives.”
I dedicate and symbolically award this prize to all the Mexican journalists whose voices have been silenced by death, forced disappearance or censorship.
I also dedicate it to all those Mexican journalists who daily continue to set an example in their duty to inform and denounce at whatever cost.
Here is a link to her full acceptance speech.
It was widely reported late yesterday that Mexican journalist Miguel Angel Lopez Velasco had been shot dead along with his wife and son after his house was entered by gunmen.
BBC News this morning claimed authorities had not yet determined a motive for the murders which they called a “cowardly” attack.
Mr Lopez Velasco, 55, wrote for the daily newspaper Notiver, where he was also an editor. His columns focussed on crime, drug trafficking and political corruption. In its coverage, Notiver called for a swift and transparent investigation to find those guilty of the three killings.
The Committee to Protect Journalists’ senior program coordinator for the Americas Carlos Lauría said the organisation was “shocked” by the killings and called on the authorities to fully investigate and effectively prosecute those responsible.
The Mexican government must put an end to this endless wave of violence that is eroding the democratic system.
A CPJ report on the killings added that drug-related violence has made Mexico one of the world’s most dangerous countries for the press, with 13 Mexican journalists, including López, killed since the beginning of 2010. According to CPJ’s research at least three of those were known to be in direct reprisal for their work.
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The Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas is tracking incidents of violence against journalists working in Mexico using Google Maps.
The map identifies direct attacks on media and journalists during 2010, demonstrating the wave of violence that has shaken the Mexican press. Many of these attacks are linked to organised crime and the majority of these cases still remain unpunished.
Last month Mexican newspaper El Diario published an open letter to drug cartels operating in the country pleading with them to end violence against journalists.
Click on the pins to show more information.
View Knight Center map of threats against journalism in Mexico in a larger map
Full map at this link via Google Maps…
Reporting on press freedom issues in China, Russia, South Africa, Sudan or elsewhere, we are accustomed to thinking of censorship as the work of the government and the judiciary. But according to a Los Angeles Times report, newspapers in Mexico are subject to an altogether different kind of restriction – “narco-censorship”.
It’s when reporters and editors, out of fear or caution, are forced to write what the traffickers want them to write, or to simply refrain from publishing the whole truth in a country where members of the press have been intimidated, kidnapped and killed.
Drug traffickers are reportedly co-opting the country’s journalists, who fear for their life following the murder or disappearance of more than 30 reporters since a drug-war was declared on the cartels by President Felipe Calderon in December 2006.
From the border states of Tamaulipas and Chihuahua and into the central and southern states of Durango and Guerrero, reporters say they are acutely aware that traffickers do not want the local news to “heat the plaza” — to draw attention to their drug production and smuggling and efforts to subjugate the population. Such attention would invite the government to send troops and curtail their business.
And so the journalists pull their punches.
Full report at this link…
Journalists in dangerous areas of Mexico have been advised to take extra security measures, including the wearing of body armour and helmets, according to a report by the Times of India.
The article claims that Mexico’s journalist association has adopted a new “security protocol” regarding reporting in the Chihuahua state of Mexico, named the nation’s most dangerous place to practice journalism by the Center for Journalism and Public Ethics. The new protocol is reportedly based on measures outlined by Mexico’s Human Rights Commission.
The measures recommended by the State Human Rights Commission for reporters in the US border region is included in a new guide handbook, which details other safety advice such as waiting for security forces to arrive at a crime scene first, and to devise escape routes by car for when situations deteriorate.
This follows the news last week that four journalists were reportedly kidnapped, and later released, by a drugs gang after covering a protest outside a prison in the Mexican state of Durango.
See the full post here…
Three journalists thought to have been kidnapped in Mexico have been freed according to national reports, while one remains missing.
Journalism.co.uk reported on industry calls for the safe release of four journalists who went missing on Monday after covering a demonstration taking place outside a prison.
Police have now reportedly announced that two cameramen, Javier Canales and Alejandro Hernandez, were freed over the weekend while another journalist, Hector Gordoa, was freed on Friday. It remains unclear whether the three men were released by their captors or rescued by security forces.
Reporters Without Borders said the country is one of the deadliest in the world for journalists.
We are very relieved to learn to learn that cameramen Jaime Canales of TV Milenio and Alejandro Hernández of Televisa have been freed and our thoughts are with reporter Oscar Solís of El Vespertino, who is still being held. The war between the drug cartels and the authorities is wreaking havoc in Mexico and journalists are being targeted with increasing frequency. Those responsible for killing journalists take advantage of the prevailing impunity, which is fuelling the violence.
A total of 67 journalists have been killed in Mexico since 2000 and 11 have gone missing since 2003. In the 2009 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index, Mexico was ranked 137th out of 175 countries.
More tragic news from Mexico: “Police found the remains of Radio Linea Directa crime reporter Jose Luis Romero wrapped in a black bag near Los Mochis city, in Sinaloa province, on Saturday,” reports the International Press Institute (IPI).
Bullet wounds were found in his head and shoulder, and his hands and leg were broken, news reports said. On 30 December, Romero was abducted at gunpoint from a restaurant in Los Mochis, according to the Associated Press (AP). The chief investigator into the kidnapping was murdered a few hours later. Romero’s body was found by a highway near Los Mochis.
Full story at this link…
A sobering piece on GlobalPost.com that rounds up the violence against journalists in the last year:
According to a tally by El Universal, the country’s top-selling newspaper, 12 reporters, photographers, editors and radio hosts have been slain this year – two more than in the previous worst year of 2006. The deaths – all of Mexicans working for local media – make the country the most dangerous for the trade in the Western hemisphere.
One major problem is that Mexican authorities have been so overwhelmed with violent attacks on their own officials, protecting journalists has become a low priority. In the last 18 months, more than 1,000 police, soldiers, judges and other agents have been slain in execution style hits and abductions.
Full post at this link…
Norberto Miranda Madrid, a Mexican journalist, was shot dead in his newsroom on Wednesday night.
The AP reports, in a news piece about the identification of a new point man in the Mexican drug war, that at least five gunmen entered the newsroom in Nuevo Casas Grandes and killed the 54 year old journalist in front of his colleagues.
Norberto Miranda Madrid was director and wrote a crime and politics column at the news website Radio Vision Casas Grandes, said Chihuahua state attorney general’s spokesman, Vladimir Tuexi.
Miranda wrote several newspaper columns, worked as a correspondent for El Heraldo newspaper and for a radio station, reports the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas.
The International Press Institute, based in Vienna, has called upon the Mexican authorities to ‘act immediately to stem the systematic killing of reporters’ following the murder of radio journalist Juan Daniel Martínez Gil near Acapulco July 27.
At least three other journalists have been killed this year in Mexico alone, the organisation reports.
“Some critical journalists who ‘disappear’ in Mexico are never found – they are presumed to have been kidnapped and possibly murdered.”
Full release at this link…
More details about the brutal murder reported by the Associated Press at this link.