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Alarming details about election-related violence against journalists in Mexico

Journalists in Veracruz protest against the murder of their colleague Leobardo Vazquez Atzin, in Papantla municipality, Veracruz state, Mexico, 22 March 2018
Journalists in Veracruz protest against the murder of their colleague Leobardo Vazquez Atzin, in Papantla municipality, Veracruz state, Mexico, 22 March 2018

VICTORIA RAZO/AFP/Getty Images

This statement was originally published on rsf.org on 19 June 2018.

From January to May of this year, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and its Mexican partner, Propuesta Cívica, registered 45 attacks against journalists and four against media that were linked to the current elections in Mexico. These alarming figures show how journalism is being undermined and targeted by political actors, and increasingly so in the run-up to the poll.

These election-related attacks against journalists and media were monitored by RSF and Propuesta Cívica under a project called Press Alert / Alerta Prensa (#AlertaPrensa) that began in January and will continue until September. Broken down by type of attack and region, the attacks are being displayed month by month on the Press Alert monitoring and observation website.

The "attacks" registered by the Press Alert project include oral, written or online threats, acts of physical violence, smear campaigns in the media or online, and cases of judicial harassment linked to the elections to be held on 1 July, the most important in Mexico's history. A total 3,406 public offices are being elected, including president, deputies, senators and the governors of nine of Mexico's 20 states.

In the 40 attacks on journalists during the first five months of the year, a total of 45 journalists were affected, of whom 16 were women journalists. Together with the four attacks on media outlets, these alarming figures highlight the difficulty of covering elections in a country blighted by violence.

Eleven Mexican journalists were murdered in connection with their work in 2017. Another four have already been murdered so far this year (and a fifth case is being investigated). At the same time, the political class is also being targeted. At least 112 candidates and pre-candidates have been murdered in Mexico since September 2017.

RSF

The number of attacks has been increasing as the elections draw nearer. Propuesta Civica observed the same trend when it carried out a similar monitoring project during the elections in 2012.

"We call on Mexico's politicians and authorities, both federal and local, to do more to prevent the dangers associated with election coverage, and to reinforce appropriate protective measures and/or to propose new ones," said Emmanuel Colombié, the head of RSF's Latin America bureau. "The Mexican press as a whole must also address this problem and establish specific provisions for this kind of work."

Propuesta Cívica director Sara Mendiola added: "The Mexican authorities must ensure respect for the work that these reporters do, because the importance of their work in the democratic process needs no further demonstration."

Read the full report on RSF's site.

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