A cycle of impunity has led to repeated killings in recent years in Mexico, according to United Nations and regional human experts.
The human rights experts reported that recent killing of four press workers in Veracruz underscores the dire need for concrete steps to be taken to guarantee the safety of journalists and put an end to impunity.
With the alarming killings of journalists in Mexico, United Nations and regional experts today urged the Mexican Government should implement a new law to protect journalists and human rights defenders.
UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya noted that authorities must prioritize breaking the cycle of impunity where human rights defenders in Mexico desperately need the State’s effective protection.
She adds Mexican journalists continue to suffer killings, attacks, harassment, threats, stigmatization and other serious human rights violations.
The group of four experts from the UN and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights called on the Government to move ahead with the promulgation of the ‘Law for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists.’ The bill seeks to “guarantee and safeguard the life, integrity and security of human rights defenders and journalists by creating a mechanism with the authority to implement measures to protect those at risk, as well as at preventing such risks from arising in the future.”
“We have to break the cycle of impunity in Mexico, which is becoming an increasingly violent place for journalists.” UN Special Rapporteur Frank La Rue
The bill has been approved by both chambers of the federal congress and was drafted in consultation with civil society organizations, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Mexico.
The experts commended the Mexican congress for approving the bill, noting that it would provide momentum and sustainability to existing protection frameworks.
The human rights experts also lauded the process which allowed multiple parties to play an important role in the drafting of the bill, and called for the same participatory approach throughout the implementation process.
The human rights experts also emphasized the urgency of providing effective protection to those at risk and ensuring that human rights violations against journalists and human rights defenders do not go unpunished.
On October 2011, the United Nations human rights office expressed concern over the increase in the number of killings of journalists in Mexico on 2011, and urged the country’s authorities to launch immediate investigations to punish the perpetrators.
In September 2011, four journalists have been killed for their reporting on organized crime. The most recent killing occurred last Saturday, when the body of Maria Elizabeth Macias, editor of a Nuevo Laredo newspaper, was found decapitated with a handwritten message linking her murder to her postings on Internet-based social networks.
According to the non-governmental organization (NGO) Reporters without Borders, 80 journalists have been killed in Mexico since 2000, making it one of the most dangerous countries to exercise freedom of expression.
The situation for civilians has also worsened as gruesome killings continue to take place in the country. On 13 September a man and a woman were found dead, hanging from an overpass in Nuevo Laredo with a handwritten message saying “this is what will happen to Internet users.”
Other killings that took place on October 2011 include 23 men and 12 women, whose tortured bodies were found in two abandoned trucks in Veracruz City, and the finding of five severed heads inside a bag alongside boards with messages in Acapulco.
OHCHR continues to call for investigations into the killings, reminding Mexican authorities of their obligation to protect citizens from threats to the right to life, security, and freedom of expression.