New Year, Old Problems for Journalists in Mexico

Although one hates to be a pessimist, the coming year is still looking grim for journalists in Mexico.

Despite the fact that the numbers of murdered journalists declined last year, levels of violence against them are on the rise and the Government is showing no increase in willingness to investigate cases of murder, violence and intimidation against members of the profession.

We ended 2007 with the ruling by Mexico’s Supreme Court that journalist Lydia Cacho’s rights weren’t violated enough. Cacho had become the poster girl for the persecution of journalists in Mexico and the judgment by Mexico’s highest legal authority sent out a powerful message regarding the state’s power and willingness to punish violence against journalists.

As we move into January, rights groups are reporting that between three and four journalists were killed last year and as many media workers. Although those numbers are an improvement on 2006 year, when seven journalists were murdered in Mexico and the country was reported to be the second most dangerous to work in the world as a journalist after Iraq, the nature of attacks against journalists are worsening.

The Committee to Protect Journalists reported last week that reporters of harassment, disappearances and intimidation continued at disturbingly high levels throughout the year. Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission says that attacks against journalists are now more violent than they were in the past.

The NDHR added to the doom and gloom, saying that it has not witnessed an increase in the past year in the willingness on the part of the Mexican government to investigate attacks against journalists.

Reporting that four reporters were killed last year, the national rights body reported that 84 investigations were opened last year into complaints of attacks against journalists who were carrying out their duties that 88 additional cases were documented by the media. Homicide, injury and forced disappearance were some of the offences carried out and there have been attacks on newspaper offices as well as individuals and their private homes.

A rather grim picture with which to start the year.

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