It’s official, Mexico has been named world’s deadliest country for journalists

Photos of slain journalists and cameras were displayed outside the Veracruz representative office in Mexico City. (PHOTO: AFP)


Mexico
 has been named as the most dangerous country for journalists worldwide, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

The number of deaths of journalists in Mexico makes up almost a third of all those killed this year.

In the past year nine journalists were killed in the country, including several of their bodyguards, with three of the killings happening in November alone. There have been at least 120 killed in Mexico since 2000 and many of the deaths remain unsolved.

These new figures make Mexico more dangerous for journalists than war zones.

The representative for the CPJ in Mexico, Jan-Albert Hootsen, said that Mexico was facing a “multi-faceted crisis” for press freedom. Mr Hootsen added that the situation “has been getting steadily worse over the past few years,” saying that the crisis has stemmed from “impunity.”

Those most frequently attacked seem to be journalists who are investigating links between corrupt officials and organised crime. Indeed Mexico, Afghanistan and the Philippines had the highest number of retaliatory killings.

The election of president Andrés Manuel López Obrador in 2018 brought with it the hope that the situation might improve, especially when the president made a pledge saying that he would tackle violence against journalists.

In spite of this promise, the president has since publicly expressed hostility towards the media both in Mexico and abroad, further perpetuating the problem.

This includes publicly criticising The New York Times in October when Mr López Obrador denounced the paper saying: “it doesn’t have professionalism and they lack ethics above all.”

Government protection for journalists in Mexico has also been reduced and funds intended for investigations have been cut.

Afghanistan too is one of the more dangerous countries for reporters with armed conflict and gang violence a threat to press freedom. On Monday an Afghan journalist was shot and killed in the eastern city of Ghazni, the fifth to be killed this year.

Worldwide at least 30 journalists have been killed in 2020 according to the CPJ. This is 20 more reporters than in 2019. Of these, 21 were targeted in retaliation for their reporting, although the number could be much higher since 15 deaths remain under investigation.

The executive director of the CPJ, Joel Simon, released a statement saying he was appalled that the numbers have “more than doubled in the last year.” Mr Simon added: “this escalation represents a failure of the international community to confront the scourge of impunity.”

In Mexico Mr Hootsen suggested that criminal groups often collaborate with local authorities. This means that journalists are “not finding any help from the authorities that are supposed to protect them.” This in turn “fuels” and “incentivises” more attacks on journalists, with those responsible getting away unpunished, said the country’s CPJ representative.

Overall 2020 saw a rise in murders, yet the number of deaths related to direct combat dropped. Only three journalists died this way in northern Syria, the lowest number since 2000, however this may be due to the pandemic making travel more challenging.



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