Press Freedom Fighters Demand Legal Action in Mexico

[ Mexican journalist Lydia Cacho ]

October 31st, 2007 – Mexico Reporter writes: Demands have been sent to the Mexican Government from international press freedom organisations this week calling for more vigorous legal proceedings and investigations into cases of violence against journalists.

Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists both sent letters to government officials this week following the one year anniversary of the death of Indymedia journalist Brad Will at the weekend. Will was shot dead in Oaxaca on October 27th whilst covering the teacher’s strike and violence in Oaxaca and someone has yet to be charged with his murder.

Mexico was reported to be the second most dangerous place to work in the world as a journalist after Iraq last year, according to Reporters Without Borders.

2007 has showed little improvement, says the organisation. Added to the list of deaths this year are the murders of Amado Ramírez, of Televisa, in Acapulco and of Saúl Martínez Ortega, of the magazine Interdiario and the daily Cambio de Sonora. Three newspaper workers were shot dead in Oaxaca earlier this month and a further three have disappeared since the start of the year.

Not one of these cases has been solved or brought to trial, says Reporters Without Borders Secretary General Robert Ménard, who called the ‘impunity surrounding the murders of 32 journalists and the disappearance of seven others since 2000’ in Mexico a scandal.

He called for the strengthening of the powers of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes Committed Against Journalists, which is headed by Octavio Alberto Orellana Wiarco.

The Special Prosecutor was set up by the administration of former President Vincente Fox in February 2006 and is not permitted to investigate murders related to drug traffickers or organized crime – one of the biggest perpetrators of violence against journalists. Dario Ramirez, head of Article 19’s Mexico programme, called the mechanism ‘completely useless’ in an interview with

The letter is following up on commitments reportedly made by Mexican federal government representatives at a July meeting of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

“In line with promises made before the IACHR, the organisation looks to you for a precise account of the progress of the on-going investigations and strong measures to put an end to impunity” writes Ménard.

Both Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists admonished the Mexican government for its failure to investigate the murder of Brad Will and other murdered journalists effectively.

“The lack of progress in the Will case exemplifies the impunity surrounding attacks against the press in Mexico,” says Joel Simon, executive director of the CPJ in a letter addressed to President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa.

“The Mexican criminal judicial system has proved to be overburdened and dysfunctional. We believe this is a national problem whose resolution requires the engagement of the federal government. If the Mexican government is indeed committed to protecting press freedom, stronger judicial proceedings must be put into place.”

Here’s footage of Lydia Cacho, a Mexican journalist, speaking at a recent Amnesty International conference:

[ Video offline ]