Press Freedom Update Sept. 19

This week’s OPC Press Freedom update focuses on Mexico as the world’s deadliest place for journalists following reporter Julio Valdivia’s brutal murder.  

Press Freedom: Mexico

World Press Freedom Index (Reporters Without Borders)

  • Mexico ranks 143rd among 180 countries

RSF ranks 180 countries and regions according to the level of freedom available to journalists.

“Although not at war, Mexico is one of world’s deadliest countries for the media. Collusion between officials and organized crime poses a grave threat to journalists’ safety and cripples the judicial system at all levels,” says RWB.

Global Freedom Report (Freedom House)

  • Mexico scores 62 out of 100; Rating – Partly Free

Freedom House annually rates people’s access to political rights and civil liberties.

“Violence perpetrated by organized criminals, corruption among government officials, human rights abuses by both state and nonstate actors, and rampant impunity are among the most visible of Mexico’s many governance challenges,” says Freedom House.

Global Impunity Index (The Committee to Protect Journalists)

  • Mexico ranks 7th among the 13 countries rated as the worst impunity offenders.

CPJ’s annual list spotlights countries where journalists are slain, and their killers go free.

Mexico had 30 unsolved killings as of the latest CPJ impunity report in 2019.

Mexico Deadliest Place for Journalists in 2020 After Another Grisly Killing

Mourners gathered on Sept. 17 to pay their respects to Mexican newspaper reporter Julio Valdivia, 41, who was tortured and beheaded in an execution style killing in the Gulf Coast state of Veracruz where residents have been tormented by violence at the hands of organized crime.

Valdivia, who leaves behind a wife and four children, was a regional news reporter for El Mundo who focused on ‘nota roja’ journalism, a genre that focuses on the violent crime, which has become a regular feature across parts of Mexico in recent decades.

Valdivia is reportedly the fifth journalist to be killed in Mexico his year, making it the deadliest country for reporters in 2020. Last year, Mexico was the deadliest country in the world as 11 journalists were killed.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said in a Sept. 17 news briefing that he recognizes the “heroic” work of journalists in Veracruz and other states in Mexico.

“That is why all cases must be investigated and those responsible punished,” he said.

The gruesome death prompted United Nations chief António Guterres to condemn the numerous attacks against media workers around the world.

Secretary-General Guterres cited Valdivia’s killing as a brutal example of the hazardous and difficult conditions in which many journalists work globally.

“No democracy can function without press freedom, which is the cornerstone of trust between people and their institutions. When media workers are targeted, societies as a whole, pay a price,” said Guterres.

He also emphasized that a free press “is essential for peace, justice, sustainable development and human rights.

The press freedom community called for immediate action by the Mexican authorities.

The CPJ demanded that the Mexican government “undertake a thorough and credible investigation into the killing of journalist Julio Valdivia and bring the perpetrators to justice,” said Jan-Albert Hootsen, CPJ’s Mexico representative.

“Federal and state authorities cannot stand idly by and continue to allow Veracruz’s vicious cycle of impunity and violence against in the press,” said Hooten.

Hugo Gutierrez, the state security minister in Veracruz, condemned the “cowardly murder” and promised to “exhaust all resources to find those responsible.”