Mexico has been slammed for successive presidents’ failure to stop violence against journalists or to hold perpetrators accountable for their actions.
A report from the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said that Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists, and the few cases in which killers go to jail have not made a dent in such violence.
The group added that “endemic impunity allows criminal gangs, corrupt officials, and cartels to silence their critics” in Mexico, where it said over 50 journalists and media workers have been killed since 2010.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) urged President Enrique Pena Nieto to prioritize protection for the media in the last year of his government, after at least 21 journalists were slain in the past decade with “complete impunity.”
“The pursuit of justice has failed categorically,” CPJ said in a report on Mexico. “The system seems to be corrupt down to its very foundation; either that or it’s simply incapable of achieving justice.”
Mexico, where battles among rival drug cartels have left tens of thousands dead in recent years, has the sixth worst record in the world for resolving the murders of journalists, according to the CPJ.
Despite promises of action by Pena Nieto and his predecessors Felipe Calderon and Vicente Fox, Mexico’s impunity rating has more than doubled since 2008, it added.
The CPJ’s impunity index is based on unsolved journalist murders as a percentage of a country’s population.
The drug-ravaged state of Veracruz is now the deadliest region for the media in the Western hemisphere, the CPJ said.
A case in point was the January 21, 2016, killing of Marcos Hernandez Bautista, who was a reporter for the newspaper Noticias, Voz e Imagen de Oaxaca.
In March, a court in the southern state of Oaxaca convicted a former municipal police commander in the killing and sentenced him to 30 years. But the former mayor who the commander said ordered the slaying was not tried.
Journalists came under fire across the country in the ensuing weeks, resulting in March becoming the deadliest month for the press in Mexico in recent memory.
“Convictions in journalists’ murders are infrequent and when they do occur …. they are often limited to the perpetrator and authorities fail to establish a motive,” the report by Committee to Protect Journalists said.
“By not establishing a clear link to journalism or providing any motives for the killings most investigations remain opaque,” the report added. “This lack of accountability perpetuates a climate of impunity that leaves journalists open to attack.”