According to the international organization “Reporters Without Borders” President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s government has not managed to stop the violence nor end impunity against journalists.
MEXICO (Reporters Without Borders) – Mexico remains one of the most dangerous countries in Latin America for journalists. The international organization “Reporters Without Borders” in its latest report, “World Press Freedom Index 2020“, assesses the situation of journalism in 180 countries each year.
To do so, RWB measured the performance of each country by taking into account the following factors: pluralism, media independence, working environment and degree of self-censorship of journalists, legal framework, transparency, and quality of infrastructure for information production.
According to the report, neither has the government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador managed to stop the violence or put an end to the impunity in which crimes against journalists remain, as 10 of them were killed in 2019 alone.
For RWB, the most severe threat to the press in Mexico is the collusion between politicians and local authorities with organized crime: “In this country, as in its Central American neighbors, collusion between corrupt politicians and authorities (especially local ones) with organized crime persists, going beyond the political sphere, which seriously threatens the security of those involved in information,” the document points out.
Although there was a slight advance in press freedom in Mexico concerning 2019, as it rose only one position in the general ranking, from 144th to 143rd out of 180, the country is still in a “difficult situation” concerning the rest of the world, just a couple of places above nations like Venezuela (147th) and Honduras (148th).
Worldwide, the most dangerous countries to practice journalism are China, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, North Korea, Mexico and Vietnam, to name a few. While the best are in Europe, led by Norway, followed by Finland, Denmark, Sweden, and the Netherlands.
Nevertheless, RWB sees a general deterioration in the press freedom situation throughout the continent: “The environment in which Latin American journalists work is increasingly complex and hostile,” it says, adding, “those who deal with sensitive issues are suffering increasing pressure, violence and intimidation”.
The organization also notes that in addition to physical attacks on journalists in Latin America, there are harassment campaigns on the Internet, “carried out by armies of trolls and by sympathizers of authoritarian regimes.
Furthermore, it maintains that “as long as the region’s press does not have solid democratic institutions that guarantee the safety of journalists and support the development of the media, they will be forced to reinvent themselves, to find new solutions and alternatives.”
In the same report, RWB shows concern for a correlation between the repression of press freedom during the coronavirus crisis (COVID-19) and the place of countries in the world press freedom ranking.
“The COVID-19 pandemic highlights and amplifies the multiple crises that threaten the right to free independent, pluralistic, and reliable information. There is a clear correlation between the repression of press freedom during the coronavirus crisis and the place of countries in the World Press Freedom Index,” he says.
China and Iran, the epicenters of the pandemic, set up massive censorship schemes.
In Iraq, the government suspended the work permit of the Reuters news agency for three months, hours after it published a story questioning the official figures on cases of contagion.
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán from Hungary, pushed through a law that punishes the dissemination of anything they as a goverment consider “fake news” with up to five years in prison. An utterly unconscionable form of coercion.
“Authoritarian governments see in the health crisis the opportunity to apply the famous ‘shock doctrine’: to take advantage of the interruption of political life, the dismay of the population and the weakening of social movements, to impose measures that would be impossible to adopt under normal conditions,” the report denounces.
To ensure that this decisive decade is not catastrophic, RWB emphasizes that good people, whoever they are and wherever they are, must mobilize so that journalism can fulfill the essential function of being a ‘reliable witness’ for societies. So it must have all its capacities at its disposal.
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