HRC38 event: impunity reigns for attacks on free expression in Mexico

HRC38 event: impunity reigns for attacks on free expression in Mexico - Civic Space

TV journalist reporting from a crime scene. Ciudad Juarez is the most violent city in Mexico, and the epicentre of the war on drugs. In 2008, 2,000 people were murdered, an average of 5.5 murders a day.

Parallel event to the 38th session of the UN Human Rights Council

When: 22 June 2018, 12:00 – 13:30

Where: Room XXIII, Palais des Nations, United Nations at Geneva

In late 2018, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, and the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, Edison Lanza, conducted a joint mission to Mexico, meeting with over 250 journalists and civil society representatives from 21 different states.

Their findings paint a disturbing picture for freedom of expression in the country, with journalists and media outlets bearing the brunt of violence and attacks that the UN Special Rapporteur describes in his report as “seeking to undermine public debate and civic participation, a widespread attack on the roots of democratic life in Mexico, at local, state and national levels”. Impunity for these attacks remains pervasive, whilst protection mechanisms have proven largely ineffectual in preventing further violence.

Other grave challenges to freedom of expression remain. One year since the discovery of the use of targeted surveillance software against journalists and human rights defenders, an independent investigation into the government’s acquisition, and deployment of the software has yet to take place. Public advertising budgets continue to be used to deter critical coverage; whilst the legal framework, in particular criminal defamation provisions, chill press freedom, and in particular public interest reporting.

In light of these concerns, join us on the sides of the UN Human Rights Council to discuss:

  • Which actors are behind violence against journalists and media organisations in Mexico, and what can be done to ensure they are brought to justice?
  • How can the protection mechanisms be made more effective, in particular for the most at-risk groups?
  • What impact have the ‘Pegasus’ surveillance revelations had on the work of journalists and human rights defenders?
  • How can the legal framework be strengthened to better protect freedom of expression, and promote media freedom?


Panellists David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression

Paulina Gutiérrez, Digital Rights Officer, ARTICLE 19 Mexico & Central America

Luis Fernando García, Executive Director, R3D Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales

Paulina Castaño, Researcher, FUNDAR

Olga Gúzman, Advocacy Coordinator, Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos


Andrew Smith, Senior Legal Officer, ARTICLE 19