A new research document published on Thursday 14th March 2013 by ARTICLE 19 reveals a gloomy picture of the situation of press freedom and freedom of expression in 2012 in two Latin American countries. ARTICLE 19 finds that the governments of both Mexico and Brazil are responsible for what it described as a “growing problem”.
The report highlights that in 2012:
7 journalists were murdered in Mexico over something that they reported.
Violence against journalists and media workers in Mexico increased by more than 20% in a year.
16 journalists and human rights defenders were murdered in Brazil for speaking out about issues.
1 journalist or human rights defender is murdered every 4 weeks in Brazil for speaking out about an issue (7 journalists and 9 human rights defenders).
“ARTICLE 19 finds that the governments of both Mexico and Brazil are responsible for this growing problem in two crucial ways. First, agents of the state are directly implicated in violence in an alarming number of cases. Second, both states fail to recognise the true nature of the problem and their efforts to address the problem are meagre and insubstantial,” the report noted.
In Mexico, 7 journalists were murdered for speaking out. 2 journalists were abducted and are still missing as a result of their work. There were 8 attacks on the premises of media organisations using either firearms or explosives because of something that had been published or broadcast.
Shockingly in almost half of the cases (44%), state officials are directly implicated in that violence.
Violence against journalists in Mexico City increased by 64% in 2012, making the federal district as violent as Veracruz, which was considered the most dangerous city in the country in 2011.
And in Brazil, 16 journalists and human rights defenders were murdered in 2012 for speaking about issues of public importance; 7 were journalists and 9 were human rights defenders.
The Brazilian authorities often say these killings are the result of random acts of violence. Our report refutes this claim and reveals that in nearly two thirds of cases, people were murdered because they had spoken out. We investigated 82 cases where media workers and human rights defenders were the victims of violence; in 64% of those, people were, more likely than not, killed for something they said. Worse still, state officials are directly implicated in carrying out the violent attacks in one in five cases.The twin reports are published by the international advocacy group ARTICLE 19, which has conducted interviews with victims, their families and colleagues to provide a detailed understanding of crimes against freedom of expression. The reports provide a unique insight into attacks on free speech.
In the case of Mexico, ARTICLE 19 recommended: “The President must ensure that the special prosecutor, who is responsible for the investigation of crimes against journalists, is given greater autonomy and the resources necessary to enable them to do their job effectively. In turn, the special prosecutor must be fully accountable and transparent.
“Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right – everyone has the right to speak freely. This is not just about journalists and human rights defenders. They have voices that speak out over the crowd. Whenever they are silenced, what hope is there for everyone else?” said Agnes Callamard, Executive Director of ARTICLE 19 in a statement releasing the reports.
“The situation in Mexico and Brazil is of great concern and needs immediate attention,” she added.