Human Rights Commission Says Heavy Harassment of Journalists Continued in 2007

Article excerpt

Mexico remained as one of the world's most dangerous countries for journalists last year, with members of the news media facing various kinds of harassment and threats of violence. In a report released in January, the national human rights commission (Comision Nacional de Derechos Humanos, CNDH) said it opened 84 investigations in 2007 of cases where members of the news media or related professions were accosted. In addition to the reported cases, the commission also noted 88 other instances where aggression against journalists or media workers went unreported to the CNDH. Accounts of those cases were gleaned from media reports.

The CNDH report said the aggression against the news media is turning increasingly violent, with at least three journalists murdered last year and three others kidnapped. In addition, three newspaper-distribution workers were killed.

With last year's murders, 35 members of the news media and related professions were killed between 2000 and 2007. Six others disappeared during that span, including the three last year.

"The cases reviewed last year indicate that aggression against journalists has multiplied and is now more violent," said the CNDH report.

In 2006, the international journalists organization Reporters sans frontieres (RSF, Reporters Without Borders) declared Mexico the second-most-dangerous country for journalists after Iraq (see 2006-12-06).

Many journalists in Mexico are targeted for their coverage of the drug trade. Among those killed last year was Amado Ramirez Dillanes, a correspondent for the national television network Televisa. Ramirez, who was murdered in April, did a series of reports about activities by drug cartels in Acapulco (see SourceMex, 2007-05-30).

Also murdered in April was Saul Martinez Ortega, a reporter for the Sonora-based publications Interdiario and Diario de Agua Prieta. Martinez had just concluded an investigation of a kidnapping and murder at the time he was killed.

In December, unknown assailants kidnapped and murdered Gerardo Israel Garcia Pimentel, a reporter for the daily newspaper La Opinion de Michoacan, based in Uruapan, Michoacan state. The motive for Garcia's murder is unknown. Even though Michoacan is one of the Mexican states with the highest rates of drug-related violence, Garcia did not cover the drug trade. "His beat was agriculture and on occasion some police matters," said RSF.

In addition to the direct physical attacks, journalists had to endure death threats via telephone, electronic mail, or in person. …