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Mexico urged to continue funding journalist protection mechanism

A journalist displays a poster with the image of one of the more than 140 journalists and photojournalists who were murdered and went missing in Mexico since 2000, during a protest in Mexico City, 1 June 2018
A journalist displays a poster with the image of one of the more than 140 journalists and photojournalists who were murdered and went missing in Mexico since 2000, during a protest in Mexico City, 1 June 2018

YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images

This letter was originally published on cpj.org on 4 September 2018.

Secretary of Governance Alfonso Navarrete Prida
Governance Secretariat
Abraham González 48
Colonia Juárez
Delegación Cuauthémoc
C.P. 06600
Mexico City, Mexico

September 4, 2018

Dear Secretary Navarrete,

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an independent press freedom advocacy organization, is deeply concerned about the imminent gap in financing that threatens the operation of the Federal Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists. We urge the Mexican federal government to take immediate action to guarantee continued and sufficient funding for the institution, which provides protective measures to over 700 journalists and human rights defenders under imminent threat of violence.

In an August 22 statement, the president of Mexico's National Human Rights Commission (CNDH), Luis Raúl González Pérez, disclosed that the current financial reserves of the mechanism, which is funded through a federal trust, will be exhausted by the end of September. Officials of the mechanism have confirmed to CPJ that, unless the situation changes, the institution will be forced to retire protective measures for its beneficiaries by October 1.

Mexico is the most dangerous country for journalists in the Western Hemisphere. This year alone, at least seven reporters have been killed, according to CPJ research, at least three of them in clear connection to their work. Journalists are also subject to death threats and online aggression, among other risks. The vast majority of cases of violence against reporters remain without a conviction; according to CPJ's 2017 Global Impunity Index, Mexico ranks sixth, just below war-torn nations such as Somalia, Iraq, and Syria.

The mechanism was created in 2012 after Mexico adopted the Federal Law for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists. After a difficult first few years, the mechanism has taken important steps to improve its protocols for risk evaluation, rapid response, and relocation. As such, the institution has become an important tool for the security of journalists and human rights defenders in situations of extreme risk. With the incoming administration taking office on December 1 of this year, it is pivotal to press freedom in Mexico that the mechanism operate throughout the transition period.

The mechanism's funding challenges are not new, unfortunately, and appear to be a repetition of last year. During a May 4, 2017, meeting with a CPJ delegation in Mexico City, President Enrique Peña Nieto committed to adequately funding the mechanism so as to guarantee its continuing operation. Officials tell CPJ that this commitment has never fully materialized.

We appeal to your government to take immediate steps to guarantee adequate funding for the Federal Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists and to take the appropriate steps to prevent a repetition of these issues in the future.

Sincerely,

Alexandra Ellerbeck
North America Program Coordinator
Committee to Protect Journalists

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