Reports   |   Mexico

Silence or Death in Mexico's Press

6. Recommendations

CPJ offers these recommendations to Mexican authorities, the international community, and the journalism community:


Mexican Authorities

To President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa  

  • Use the full power of your office to ensure that all citizens, including members of the media, can exercise their right to freedom of expression as guaranteed in Articles 6 and 7 of the Constitution. Publicly condemn acts of violence against journalists as crimes not only against citizens, but against the public’s right to freedom of expression.
  • Bring to fruition your pledge to federalize crimes against free expression. Working with Congress, use the power of your office to enact legal reforms that would federalize crimes against free expression and assign responsibility for investigating and prosecuting such crimes to federal authorities. Ensure that all legislation conforms with international standards guaranteeing the right to freedom of expression.
  • Until legal reforms are adopted, ensure that federal law enforcement officials take responsibility for all attacks against the press that fall within their existing jurisdiction. Federal authorities are currently empowered to investigate offenses involving links to organized crime and the use of military weapons. Direct federal officials to investigate these cases thoroughly and prosecute the perpetrators to the full extent of the law.
  • Until legal reforms are adopted, use your influence to urge that state authorities fully investigate and prosecute all crimes against the press that fall within their existing jurisdiction.
  • Promote the creation of a government committee that will provide direct protection for journalists at imminent risk.
  • Use your influence to ensure that the office of the federal special prosecutor for crimes against the press is strengthened so it has sufficient authority and resources to apply the law effectively.
  • Develop new procedures and training to ensure that federal police and military forces understand that journalists have the right to cover law enforcement operations without interference.

To Attorney General Arturo Chávez Chávez

  • Strengthen the office of the federal special prosecutor for crimes against the press with the goal of ensuring that it has sufficient authority and resources to apply the law effectively.
  • Ensure that federal law enforcement officials assume responsibility for all attacks against the press that fall within their current jurisdiction under the law. Direct federal law enforcement officials to investigate these cases thoroughly and prosecute the perpetrators to the full extent of the law.
  • Use the full resources of your office to bring arrests and win convictions in the November 2008 murder of Armando Rodriguez Carreón in Ciudad Juárez. The case, now in the hands of federal authorities, has been identified by CPJ as one of the 10 emblematic cases of impunity in journalist murders worldwide.
  • Provide training to prosecutors assigned to crimes against free expression. Ensure that this training addresses the unique problems facing journalists and the vital national role of a free press.
  • Cooperate fully with state attorneys general in current investigations of attacks against the press. Demand that state authorities cooperate and communicate fully with your office.

To Congress

  • Working with the executive branch, enact legal reforms that would federalize crimes against free expression and assign responsibility for investigating and prosecuting such crimes to federal authorities. Ensure that this legislation places accountability at senior levels of the national government. Ensure that all legislation conforms with international standards.
  • The congressional committee that monitors attacks against the press should take a leading role in advocating legal reforms that would federalize crimes against free expression; in examining other systemic problems that thwart justice; in pursuing ongoing reforms; and in advocating on behalf of citizens’ rights to free expression.

The International Community

To the U.N. Human Rights Committee

  • Hold the Mexican federal government accountable under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights for providing effective remedies for crimes against freedom of expression.
  • Monitor and promote Mexico’s compliance with the committee’s March 2010 findings, which called for “immediate action to provide effective protection for journalists whose lives and security are at risk.”

To the Organization of American States

  • Hold the Mexican federal government accountable under Principle 9 of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Principle 9 states that “the murder, kidnapping, intimidation of and/or threats against social communicators, as well as the material destruction of communications media, violate the fundamental rights of individuals and strongly restrict freedom of expression.”
  • Set specific goals to ensure Mexico’s compliance with recommendations issued by the office of the special rapporteur for freedom of expression. The special rapporteur has urged implementation of measures to guarantee the lives and safety of journalists at risk, to give federal authorities broader jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute press crimes, and to strengthen the office of the federal special prosecutor for crimes against journalists.

To the European Union

  • Raise the issue of impunity in attacks against Mexican journalists in the context of the human rights clause of the Economic Partnership, Political Coordination, and Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and Mexico. Address the issue in the next session of the EU-Mexico civil society forum, scheduled for October 2010.
  • Based on its March 2010 resolution concerning violence in Mexico, the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs and its human rights subcommittee should convene a hearing on attacks against the press in Mexico.

To the U.S. government 

  • Ensure that the issue of violence against the press in Mexico is regularly addressed as part of bilateral communications. President Barack Obama and high-ranking officials of his administration should make clear that the United States has deep concern about pervasive violence against the Mexican press and considers the issue to be a priority.

The Journalism Community

To the news media

  • Consistently cover the issue of violence against the media. Treat attacks against journalists, even those from competing news organizations, as worthy of news coverage. Speak out against attacks on the press in on-air commentary and editorial pages.

To press freedom organizations 

  • Forge consensus on a set of principles to protect journalists and work together to ensure adoption.
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