IFEX members around the world denounce the alarming rate of journalist murders in Mexico and demand a thorough evaluation of existing protection mechanisms.
Since President Enrique Peña Nieto took office in 2012, a staggering 30 journalists have been killed. According to the Special Prosecutor’s Office for Crimes Against Free Expression (FEADLE) between 2010 and 2016, 99.75% of journalist killings have gone with impunity. In light of this alarming situation, we, the undersigned organisations urge the government of Mexico to take measures that will curb this deadly trend and bring those responsible to justice.
In March 2017 alone, three journalists were the victims of targeted killings. This raises serious questions not only about the Mexican state’s ability to control violence against journalists, but also around the effectiveness of existing protection mechanisms as one of the murders was carried out after state protection was deemed no longer necessary. The names of the victims and circumstances of their murders are as follows:
Miroslava Breach, Contributor to La Jornada and El Norte de Juarez, among other news outlets. Breach mainly covered stories on politics and security and had recently headed a corruption investigation that lead to the dismissal of Ciudad Juarez’s Public Security Secretary. She also wrote extensively on corruption in the administration of former Chihuahua Governor Cesar Duarte Jaquez. Breach was shot and killed by unidentified gunman on the morning of 23 March 2017 as she left her house in Chihuahua.
Ricardo Monlui Cabera, Director of print newspaper El Politico. Monlui wrote mainly about sugarcane production and was also president of an association of journalists in Veracruz state. Monlui was shot and killed at a restaurant in Yanga, Veracruz while eating breakfast with family members.
Cecilio Pineda, Director of La Voz de la Tierra Caliente. Pineda reported extensively on corruption within state authorities in Guerrero. He had recently criticized the Guerrero State Government for lacking the political will and capacity to deal with the Tequileros Cartel. On 2 March 2017, Pineda was shot dead by two men on a motorcycle at a carwash in the city of Altamirano.
Of these three tragic killings, Cecilio Pineda’s murder is perhaps the most exemplary of the Mexican state’s inability to stop violence against journalists in the country. After a failed assassination attempt in September of 2015, Mr. Pineda was granted protection measures through a programme run by the Ministry of the Interior to protect human rights defenders and journalists under threat (often referred to as SEGOB, an acronym in Spanish). On 14 October 2016, SEGOB withdrew those measures based on a determination of Pineda’s risk as low, a decision that had deadly consequences. SEGOB has provided very little information on how they arrived at this assessment.
We are deeply concerned with this recent surge in violence against journalists in Mexico and the levels of impunity associated with these crimes. A near 100% impunity rate is indicative of serious issues with the administration of justice in Mexico. Furthermore, we strongly denounce the Ministry of the Interior’s decision to withdraw Pineda’s precautionary measures, and we call on Mexican authorities to:
• Immediately conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the murders of Miroslava Breach, Ricardo Monlui Cabrera and Cecilio Pineda and bring those responsible to justice.
• Investigate the Ministry of the Interior’s misguided decision to deny Cecilio Pineda the protections guaranteed under the Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders and Journalists and provide transparency on why his case was considered low-risk.