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7World Press Freedom Day 2017

3 May 2017 – Mexico is one of the worst countries in the world in which to be a journalist, with at least 83 writers and print journalists killed since 2004, while another 11 have disappeared. According to the Special Prosecutor’s Office for Crimes Against Free Expression (FEADLE) between 2010 and 2016, 99.75% of all killings took place with impunity. The rate at which such crimes are being perpetrated seems only to be increasing; nine print and internet journalists were killed between January and December 2016, nearly twice the number of the previous year. Meanwhile, the assassination of three print journalists in Mexico in March 2017 alone secures the country on a course to retain its title as one of the most dangerous places in the world to work as a journalist. Their murders and the stark impunity with which these crimes are met are a devastating blow to freedom of expression in the country, where journalists face daily threats and harassment.

On World Press Freedom Day, PEN International renews its calls on the Mexican authorities to protect its writers and journalists, and to carry out swift and thorough investigations into the killings of journalists Cecilio Pineda Brito, Ricardo Monlui Cabrera and Miroslava Breach Velducea, ensuring that any possible links to their work are properly investigated and for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.

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Send appeals to calling on the state and federal authorities in Mexico to:

  • Calling on the Mexican authorities to conduct full, prompt and impartial investigations into the murders of Cecilio Pineda Brito, Ricardo Monlui Cabrera and Miroslava Breach Velducea, with the involvement of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Freedom of Expression (FEADLE), and for the perpetrators to be brought to justice;
  • End the harassment of Mexican journalists for their work, and provide them and all Mexican citizens with the protection they need in order to safeguard their right to freedom of expression.

Send appeals to:

PresidentLic. Enrique Peña Nieto
Presidente de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos
Residencia Oficial de los Pinos Casa Miguel Alemán
Col. San Miguel Chapultepec, C.P. 11850, DISTRITO FEDERAL, México
Fax: (+ 52 55) 5093 4901/ 5277 2376
Email: enrique.penanieto@presidencia.gob.mx
Messages can also be sent via the Presidency’s website: http://www.presidencia.gob.mx/contacto/
Salutation: Señor Presidente/ Dear Mr President
Minister of the Interior
Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong Secretaría de Gobernación Bucareli 99, Col. Juárez, Del. Cuauhtémoc, C.P. 06600 Ciudad de México, México Twitter: @osoriochong
Email: secretario@segob.gob.mx
Salutation: Dear Minister / Sr. Secretario
Special Prosecutor for Crimes Against Freedom of Expression (Fiscalía Especial de Atención a Delitos en contra de la Libertad de Expresión – FEADLE)
Lic. Ricardo Celso Nájera Herrera
Fiscal EspecialEmail: ricardo.najera@pgr.gob.mx

Send copies to the Embassy of Mexico in your own country. Embassy addresses may be found here: https://embassy.goabroad.com/embassies-of/mexico

Please keep us informed of any action you take, including any responses you receive from the authorities.

Background

On 2 March 2017, Cecilio Pineda Brito was shot dead in Ciudad Altamirano, Guerrero State. Pineda Brito, aged 38, was a contributor to El Universal daily newspaper, among others. Pineda reportedly founded and edited a local weekly newspaper La Voz de la Tierra Caliente until it went out of circulation in 2016. According to Reporters Without Borders, he was known for criticising local corruption, and had been threatened over the years. In September 2015, Pineda Brito was the victim of a failed assassination attempt that led him to seek protection under the federal protection mechanism. The measures were reportedly withdrawn in October 2016 following a determination that the risk to Pineda Brito’s was low. The Federal Special Prosecutor for Crimes Against Freedom of Expression has reportedly taken up the case.

Two weeks later, Ricardo Monlui Cabrera was shot dead as he was leaving a restaurant with his wife and son in the municipality of Yanga, Veracruz state, on 19 March 2017. Monlui Cabrera, aged 57, a resident of the city of Córdoba and journalist for over 30 years, was the director of El Político newspaper and the author of ‘Crisol’, a column in both Diario de Xalapaca and El Sol de Córdoba newspapers. Monlui Cabrera was also president of Córdoba’s local journalists’ association. His work, both within and outside of journalism – as spokesperson for the National Union of Sugar Cane Producers – reportedly focused on the sugar canes business, which is believed to be linked to violence in the state of Cordoba.

A mere four days later, Miroslava Breach Velducea was repeatedly shot in the head outside her house in Chihuahua on 23 March 2017. Breach Velducea, aged 54, was a well-known journalist whose twenty-year career focused on reporting on political and social issues, often covering corruption. She worked as a correspondent for the national paper La Jornada, and contributed to several other news outlets. Shortly before her murder, Breach had headed a corruption investigation. A federal investigation has reportedly been launched.

Monlui Cabrera was murdered in Veracruz, notoriously one of the most dangerous places in the Mexico to work as a journalist. At least 15 writers and print journalists have been killed in Veracruz since 2004, 12 of them since 2010. The start of Miguel Ángel Yunes Linares’s government in December 2016 has not so far brought about a change in the level of violence or the perception of safety for journalists in the state.

On 27 March 2017, editor in chief of La Opinión de Poza Rica, Armando Arrieta Granados, was reportedly shot multiple times in the chest outside his home in Poza Rica, Veracruz. He remains in a serious condition in hospital. The State Commission for the Care and Protection of Journalists (Comisión Estatal para la Atención y Protección de los Periodistas – CEAPP) in Veracruz is reported to have activated its emergency protocols and is providing the journalist and his family with protection. Meanwhile the Special Prosecutor for Crimes Against Freedom of Expression (Fiscalía Especial para la Atención de Delitos cometidos en contra de la Libertad de Expresión – FEADLE) has launched an investigation into the attack.

In Baja California, Julio Omar Gómez reportedly narrowly escaped an attempt on his life in Cabo San Lucas on 28 March 2017; Gómez’ bodyguard was reportedly killed in the shooting, which took place outside his home. Gómez had recently retired from journalism following several attacks on his home and car.

Most recently, on 17 March 2017, Article 19 reported that Tamara De Anda, blogger for El Universal, reporter for Canal Once, among other media houses, began receiving threats and harassment online after she made public her complaint against a taxi driver who she alleges sexually harassed her.

For more information on PEN International’s work in Mexico, click here.

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