Mexico: ARTICLE 19 urges Obrador to focus on protecting journalists at home

Mexican president President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (“Amlo”) has launched a second attack against ARTICLE 19 at a press conference in Mexico, during which he focused on accusations that ARTICLE 19 is paid to undermine the Mexican government.

The accusation comes just over a month on from the President’s initial criticism of the organisation, which implied that ARTICLE 19 is not independent. Yet ARTICLE 19’s funding, which it has always disclosed, is directed towards the support of journalists, filling the void left by the Mexican state.

ARTICLE 19 is proud to partner with those who value the lives of journalists in Mexico, and we wish we had the resources to do more.

The funding we receive goes towards documenting attacks, providing legal support, security and safety training, and emergency funds for journalists under threat. This funding has protected hundreds of journalists in Mexico, but the need dramatically outpaces the resources available.

We have documented nearly 5000 attacks against journalists over the past ten years.

Leopoldo Maldonado, Regional Director of ARTICLE 19 Mexico and Central America reminded the Mexican government in a statement today that

“In the last year alone, ARTICLE 19 documented 692 aggressions against the press last year, an increase of 13.6% compared to the previous year. 49.5% of these aggressions were committed by State agents (public servants/ civil and armed security forces), and continue to be the primary source of violations against journalists in Mexico.”

Since López Obrador came to power in December 2018, no less than 18 journalists have been killed in connection with their work. The most recent death, the murder of Benjamín Morales in Sonoyta, Sonora, occurred on 3rd May – World Press Freedom Day.

Rather than dealing with the violence, Obrador appears intent on silencing critical voices and is actively stigmatizing the work of non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

ARTICLE 19 has regularly urged the Mexican government to take more stringent steps to protect journalists and free speech, and its 2020 criticism of the state news agency, Notimex, is a case in point.

“At a time of crisis, and when the public is mourning the tragedy of earlier this week, the president has resorted to attacking a civil society organisation that worked for years to promote human rights and open debate in Mexico,” says Executive Director Quinn McKew.

“ARTICLE 19 will not stop its vital work supporting the protection of journalists in one of the most dangerous environments in the world for media workers. We urge the president to stop attacking democratic values and start the process of making his country a safer place for ideas and knowledge to flourish.”

Obrador’s first attacks followed ARTICLE 19’s exposure of harassment and intimidation by the state news agency Notimex. Its director Sanjuana Martinez was identified as being directly responsible for orchestrating and ordering the harassment.

The criticism from AMLO in March prompted widespread solidarity with ARTICLE 19 from media groups, free speech campaigners and civil society.

ARTICLE 19’s board of directors issued a statement expressing shock about the President’s apparent willingness to turn his back on the principles of democracy, including a free and independent civil society.

“For more than a decade, throughout different partisan governments, ARTICLE 19 has fought to defend journalists from harassment by power holders and to seek citizens’ access to public information and communication technologies free of censorship,” the Board said.

 

Notes for Editors

  • From 2017 to 2021, ARTICLE 19 Mexico has registered 2,258 attacks against the press
    • 2017: 507 attacks
    • 2018: 544 attacks
    • 2019.609 attacks
    • 2020:692 attacks
    • 2021: 106 attacks in the first quarter of the year
  • Over those years ARTICLE has provided direct support, including emergency support, legal representation, advice, and guidance to journalists under attack. In 2020, we directly supported 44% of journalists affected by violations in 2020.
  • Since President Obrador came to power in 2018, ARTICLE 19 Mexico has represented 895 cases of violations against journalists.
  • Some recorded cases concern multiple violations against the same victim.

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