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One in two freelance newsgatherers in Mexico, the most dangerous country in Latin America for journalists, has been threatened or attacked, says a new survey by the Rory Peck Trust, an organisation dedicated to supporting and protecting freelancers. And more than half of those attacks come from local government, police and the military, the trust says.

"Threats, beatings, kidnappings, journalists gone missing, murder... In Mexico, freelancers working in different parts of the country live side by side with insecurity," says the trust.

"Freelancers in Mexico", the first nation-wide investigation into the situation of freelance news reporters in the country, is based on an opinion poll of 300 independent Mexican reporters, as well as meetings with professionals, including IFEX members in Mexico, held in 2007 in 15 cities throughout the country.

According to the investigation, the freelancers say they are more likely to denounce the attacks to their employers than they are to approach the justice system. But a shocking 34 percent of them prefer not to speak out against the attacks at all, illustrating a serious lack of faith in public powers and media employers. "Their fearful silence perpetuates impunity," says the trust.

The report also underlines the "precarious employment situation" of freelancers, most of whom have low incomes, poor equipment, financial insecurity and a lack of professional training to safeguard their personal safety.

The report is part of the trust's Good Practice Programme, which is working to address the concerns of Mexican freelancers by subsidising country-specific safety training, establishing low-cost equipment and medial insurance, and advocating for improved working conditions for freelancers.

Read the report in full here:

(Photo courtesy of the Rory Peck Trust)

(11 March 2008)

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