Members of the Yucatán State Public Security Secretariat (SSP) have been linked to a legal process after arbitrarily detaining a police reporter in the city of Mérida.
The incident took place on November 7, 2022, when journalist Gabriel Chan Uicab, a contributor to a local newspaper, arrived to cover a traffic accident in the western part of the Yucatán capital.
The reporter got off his motorcycle and began taking photographs in an area that was not cordoned off. However, his work was interrupted by a state police officer who told him he couldn’t take pictures.
As the obstruction of his journalistic work was carried out, the officer called for support from another colleague to further obstruct Chan Uicab’s work.
Suddenly, one of them came up with the idea of telling the reporter that his motorcycle was parked incorrectly and asked him to move it, even though the two-wheeled vehicle was parked next to the sidewalk and behind another vehicle belonging to another media company that was also present covering the incident.
As the crime reporter protested this allegation and refused to move his motorcycle, the two officers subdued him against the wall and handcuffed him, temporarily placing him in a police vehicle in the West Sector.
This took place in front of other journalists who criticized the Yucatán SSP officers for infringing upon the freedom of the press and freedom of expression.
A “commander” arrived at the scene and recognized the reporter, instructing his subordinates to release him. They removed the handcuffs and let him go. However, Chan Uicab went to the Yucatán headquarters of the Federal Attorney General’s Office (FGR) to file a complaint regarding the aggression against a journalist.
It was only last week when the reporter and the police officers crossed paths again, but this time in front of a judge who charged them with crimes related to aggression against the press. Yesterday, the pretrial hearing took place, and both officers were processed.
Although they were not subject to preventive custody as a precautionary measure, the federal judge ordered the Yucatán SSP officers to stay away from the victim and the witnesses present at the scene.
This case of aggression against the press by Yucatán police officers adds to a series of incidents in recent years. Just in May 2022, reporter Ramón Reyna Chuc, who covers the western part of the state, was assaulted by a female officer from the Kinchil Municipal Police.
The reporter had arrived in the municipality to cover a traffic accident involving the mayor of Kinchil, Valentín Pech Dzib, who allegedly was driving under the influence.
Upon their arrival, the police officers quickly removed the car from the crime scene and secured it in the courtyard of the Municipal Palace.
Reyna Chuc managed to find a spot to livestream the hidden vehicle, but when the female police officer realized this, she started throwing stones from where she was positioned.
The reporter filed a corresponding complaint, and after several months of legal proceedings for abuse of authority, the officer was sentenced to two years and three months in prison, in addition to being dismissed from her position and having to pay a fine for damages against the victim.
During 2022, over 30 media workers in Yucatán were victims of physical aggression and censorship, with state and municipal police being the main perpetrators of these attacks.
The human rights and freedom of expression defense organization, Article 19, ranked Yucatán as the second highest state in the country regarding such attacks on journalists, second only to Mexico City.