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The Mexican state is responsible for the safety of their country's journalists and activists

At 14h00 on 11 October 2013, a security incident took place in our Mexican office. This follows previous security incidents involving our Mexican operations. ARTICLE 19 calls on the state to comply with their legal responsibilities, both national and international, to protect the safety of our staff as human rights defenders.

Two ARTICLE 19 staff were meeting on an office balcony with the independent journalist and documentary filmmaker, Ricardo del Conde, when they noticed a man taking photos of them from across the street.

As trained, the staff photographed the man who quickly walked away. Minutes later a metal object was thrown and struck one of the staff in the chest. Amid the resultant confusion, a second man appeared dressed in black and with a radio-communicator, who waved, laughing threateningly at staff taking photos. He then left.

In April 2013, ARTICLE 19 received protection under the federal protection mechanism for journalists and human rights defenders, which was set up after much advocacy by organisations like ARTICLE 19 to respond to similar intimidation and attacks. The latest attack calls into question a July 2013 risk assessment carried out by the Governing Board of the Protection Mechanism, which categorised the risk to ARTICLE 19 staff as “low”.

As a result of this second attack, ARTICLE 19 has conducted another internal review of safety measures and informed the government agencies responsible for our protection. The physical and emotional safety of ARTICLE 19 staff is of primary importance to the organisation, and is necessary for us to deliver our vital role in the country.

The Mexican state bears the responsibility for providing a secure and enabling environment in which ARTICLE 19 staff can effectively promote and defend the right to freedom of expression.

No threat or act of intimidation should go unnoticed by the authorities. If such acts of intimidation against journalists and human rights defenders are continuing despite the government rhetoric, clearly the cycle of impunity has not been broken.

Such attackers are operating with the assurance that their actions will go unpunished. Despite this difficult environment, ARTICLE 19 will not relent in our work and will hold the State responsible for the safety of our staff, and all human rights defenders.

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