PEN International report to UN warns of continued violence against journalists and writers in Mexico due to slow reform
March 7, 2013 – Three years after Mexico accepted United Nations (UN) recommendations for combating violence against journalists and eradicating impunity for human rights violations, “the rate at which journalists are being attacked and killed in the country continues to spiral,” PEN International warned today in a submission to the UN’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process, calling government initiatives to stem the violence since the 2009 review “largely cosmetic.” A PEN delegation will be visiting Mexico next week to press for concrete action on the dozens of unsolved killings and disappearances of journalists and writers.
In a keynote speech at the Inter American Press Association in Puebla, Mexico on March 8, PEN International president John Ralston Saul will be raising concerns about freedom of expression and highlighting measure that should be implemented to protect journalists, writers and advocates of freedom of speech in the country.
Since the 2009 UPR review the Mexican government has introduced a number of institutional and legal measures aimed at protecting journalists and the right to freedom of expression, but these mechanisms have proved largely ineffective and superficial. The rate at which journalists are being killed in Mexico continues to accelerate, while those who commit crimes against journalists go unpunished. Since December 2006 at least 46 print and internet journalists and writers have been killed in the country. There is little or no investigation into these cases with less than 10 per cent of attacks resulting in convictions.
This climate of impunity owes much of its existence to the corruption and inertia that are so prevalent throughout the Mexican states. Police and employees of local administrations are frequently implicated in attacks on journalists, and threats to journalists’ right to free expression often come directly from the state authorities themselves.
In January 2012, the President of PEN International, John Ralston Saul, led a delegation of writers to Mexico, to raise concerns about the continued violence suffered by Mexican writers and journalists in meetings with key government figures. On 27 January 2012 PEN International published a letter in the Mexican paper El Universal and Canadian Le Devoir standing in solidarity with the writers and journalists of Mexico. The letter was signed by 170 of the world’s leading authors, including seven Nobel Laureates.
As part of its continued efforts in Mexico, PEN International launched Write Against Impunity in August 2012. The campaign brought together PEN Centres across Latin America in a wide-reaching literary protest with over 40 writers contributing poetry and prose commemorating murdered colleagues and protesting against impunity. In October, PEN International was at Hay Festival Xalapa highlighting the escalating violence against writers in the region.
In its UPR submission PEN International calls for full and transparent federal-level investigations into the murder and disappearance of journalists and writer and for all allegations of attacks carried out by government entities to be fully and promptly investigated PEN also calls for the strengthening of Mexico’s new protection mechanism for journalists and human rights defenders, among other recommendations.
PEN’s full UPR report on Mexico, with a full list of recommendations, can be viewed here.
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PEN International celebrates literature and promotes freedom of expression. Founded in 1921, our global community of writers now comprises 144 Centres spanning more than 100 countries. Our programmes, campaigns, events and publications connect writers and readers for global solidarity and cooperation. PEN International is a non-political organization and holds consultative status at the United Nations and UNESCO. www.pen-international.org