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Escalating security offensive to blame for rising attacks on the media, says RSF report

(RSF/IFEX) - 28 September 2009 - Reporters Without Borders is today releasing the report of its latest visit to Mexico, which took place from 4 to 12 July. The release coincides with a Reporters Without Borders news conference in Washington, the speakers at which will include Emilio Gutiérrez Soto, a Mexican journalist who fled to the United States and is now waiting to be granted refugee status (see video: ).

With a total of 55 deaths of journalists since 2000 that were clearly or probably linked to their work, and eight journalists missing, Mexico is the the western hemisphere's most dangerous country for press freedom. The creation of a Special Federal Attorney's Office for Combating Violence against the Media in February 2006 has unfortunately changed nothing and has not helped to combat impunity.

The purpose of this Reporters Without Borders visit was to examine the investigations into several recent murders and disappearances of journalists with the aim of gaining insight into the workings of the Mexican criminal justice system and what causes it to malfunction.

Led by secretary-general Jean-François Julliard, the Reporters Without Borders delegation met with journalists, press freedom activists and government officials, including secretary of interior Fernando Francisco Gómez-Mont Urueta, the number two in the federal government.

The report's findings are unfortunately damning for the authorities, both local and federal. The passivity or negligence of the excessive number of entities dedicated to defending press freedom in all branches of the government (executive, legislative and judicial), and their tendency to cancel each other out, are not the only reasons why the Mexican media's ordeal continues.

The authorities are also complicit in, if not responsible for, serious human rights violations, including of the right to report the news.

The scale of this tragedy is the result not only of organised crime's infiltration of certain sectors of the state apparatus but also the escalating security measures and the military offensive on the drug cartels launched in December 2006.

The number of deaths resulting from this undeclared war now stands at 14,000. The federal offensive is being waged with particular determination in the southwestern states of Michoacán and Guerrero, which are as much in the grip of the drug trafficking and violence as the regions along the US border. After visiting the capital, the Reporters Without Borders delegation spent most of its time in these two states.

In the report's conclusions, Reporters Without Borders calls for a complete overhaul of the Mexican judicial system and major legislative changes concerning the press. The press freedom organisation is nonetheless convinced that a solution to the tragedy is impossible unless the United States imposes controls on firearms.

Mexicoreport.pdf (406 KB)

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