This week, on 15 May 2017, Mexican journalist Jesús Javier Valdez Cárdenas, director and founder of the weekly newspaper Ríodoce and correspondent of the newspaper La Jornada, was murdered in the streets of Culiacan in the northern state of Sinaloa.
His death was followed on the same day by the murder of fellow journalist Jonathan Rodríguez, bringing the total number of journalists murdered in Mexico this year to six. ARTICLE 19 strongly condemns these deadly attacks on freedom of expression, and urges the Mexican government to undertake speedy, impartial and effective investigations into the murders and bring perpetrators and instigators to justice. The Government must also do more to prevent attacks on journalists and end impunity for these crimes.
Mexico is the land of impunity. The levels are alarming, despite the fact that investigations often show victims’ journalistic work as the reason for the attacks. In 2016, 99.75% of attacks against journalists went unpunished.
Javier Valdez Cárdenas spent much of his career reporting on organized crime, drug trafficking and its impact on society. Throughout his award-winning career he was a voice for the families of the disappeared in Mexico, and the author of books including Narco-journalism, Huérfanos del Narco, and the emblematic weekly column Malayerba. His writing always defended the voice of journalism in the face of intimidation and threats.
In an act of solidarity for the threats against the weekly newspaper Zeta de Tijuana Javier Valdez had reaffirmed that “we must not be silent, we must continue to write. Silence is an act of death and complicity.”
Journalism in Mexico is mired in corruption and violence. A free press is one of the essential elements of democracy, serving to expose abuses of power and inform the public, but it is under attack. In 2016, one of the most lethal years for the press, ARTICLE 19 documented 426 assaults and 11 journalists killed.
This situation cannot continue.
“Impunity has allowed attacks against the press to become increasingly bold. Five murders in broad daylight show a clear message of power from the perpetrators, who act with the acquiescence of the state. Attacks against the press in Mexico are systematic, and require action, not empty guarantees. Violence against journalists must be a state problem, tackled by state policy,” said Ana Cristina Ruelas, Director of ARTICLE 19 Mexico and Central America.
The Mexican government must take immediate steps to ensure it upholds its obligations to protect the right to freedom of expression and information under Article 19 of the ICCPR, by guaranteeing the safety of a free and independent press. It should implement effective measures to prevent, protect and prosecute attacks against journalists, in line with its commitments under UN Human Rights Council Resolution 33/2 on the Safety of Journalists, which Mexico cosponsored in 2016.
We call on the Mexican government to accept the request for a country visit by the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and invite the UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression and the UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial summary or arbitrary Executions to conduct a country visit. The Special Rapporteurs on freedom of expression have previously called for states to unequivocally condemn crimes against free expression, put in places special protection measures and ensure access to justice for victims. In the 2012 Joint Declaration they noted that “crimes against freedom of expression are particularly serious inasmuch as they represent a direct attack on all fundamental rights”.
“The murder of Javier Valdez once again shows the appalling risks faced by journalists in Mexico simply for exercising their right to free expression. The Mexican government has a responsibility to guarantee the safety of journalists carrying out their vital work to expose corruption and inform the public, and it must urgently take steps to end this cycle of violence and impunity”, added Thomas Hughes, Executive Director of ARTICLE 19.
For more information:
Please contact ARTICLE 19’s press team on +44 (0) 20 3290 9308 or [email protected]