Press release

Mexico: Government Launches Protection Mechanism for Journalists

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ARTICLE 19

08 Nov 2010

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Mexico City 8.10.10: ARTICLE 19 welcomes the Mexican Federal Government’s long awaited decision to create a mechanism for the protection of journalists. However we are concerned that the mechanism as planned will not protect journalists at risk.

“Whilst the belated mechanism is sorely needed, this version has limitations that will severely curtail trust between the government and media workers,” says Dario Ramírez, Director for Mexico and Central America of ARTICLE 19. “Despite the expertise of civil society and journalists, they are excluded from effectively taking part in the mechanism, and this means the mechanism may fail to take account of the environment of violence against journalists and not properly address it.”

In August 2008, ARTICLE 19 called for the Mexican government to establish a mechanism that would protect journalists from increasingly targeted violence. Despite the clear pattern of attacks, it has taken until now for the Mexican government to accept the need.

The National Commission on Human Rights and the Ministry of Interior, along with other governmental institutions will now agree the mechanism, and draft the operational guidelines. Journalists and civil society will not be invited to participate.

ARTICLE 19 welcomes the mechanism, which will assess journalists at risk and define prevention and protection measures on a case-by-case basis, but it is concerned by serious limitations:

1. Lack of resources. The decision does not allocate resources for the mechanism’s implementation, relying on the resources and political will of the authorities involved. ARTICLE 19 has found that political will is lacking so far, and the lack of resources will restrain the mechanism’s capacity to protect
2. Lack of coordination between federal and local levels. The decision relies on local authorities for the implementation of protection measures. ARTICLE 19 has found that local authorities are often involved in violence against journalists, and lack of trust in the local authorities will undermine local protection
3. Lack of civil society participation. The decision excludes civil society organisations from participating in the development of the mechanism and the Risk Evaluation Committee, despite their years of experience in the protection of journalists. ARTICLE 19 believes that this will result in an inadequate analysis of the causes and protection of journalists, poor transparency in the mechanism, and the absence of proper evaluation from a technical and human rights perspective
4. Restricted participation of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. The decision does not allow for the participation of the OHCHR as a full member in the Committee. It is only foreseen as an occasional guest. ARTICLE 19 believes that the OHCHR’s participation is vital in the assessment and decision-making process to ensure a human rights and gender perspective and build trust within the journalism community.

ARTICLE 19 calls on the Mexican Federal Government to take account of the observations made by civil society and journalists, and to ensure their participation in the formulation of the Operational Guidelines of the Mechanism for the Protection of Journalists.

ARTICLE 19 further urges the government to comply with its international human rights obligations and commitments, including the recommendations formulated by the Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council and the UN and OAS Special Rapporteurs on Freedom of Expression related to the creation of a mechanism for the protection of journalists.

NOTES TO EDITORS:
• For more information please contact: Carla Aguirre, carla@article19.org; +52 55 1054 6500

See the full text at: http://www.article19.org/pdfs/press/mexico-government-launches-protection-mechanism-for-journalists.pdf