May 21, 2019

Press Freedom

Mexico

OPC Letter to Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador President of Mexico

December 4, 2018

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador
President of Mexico
Los Pinos
Mexico City
MEXICO

Dear President Lopez Obrador,

On behalf of the Overseas Press Club of America, the oldest U.S.-based journalist organization covering global news, I wish to congratulate you on your inauguration as President of Mexico. You assume leadership of the country with many serious challenges, but the one that concerns us most is a scandal where the Mexican government is using illegal surveillance technology to spy on journalists.

A Nov. 27 story in The New York Times detailed how two Rio Doce colleagues of slain Mexican journalist Javier Valdez were contacted the day after his murder and invited to open links containing spyware embedded in email messages. Forensic analysis performed by the Citizens Lab at the University of Toronto has confirmed nearly two dozen targets in Mexico’s journalist and human rights community.

The Mexican government denounced the spying and opened an investigation after it was reported in The New York Times. However, not one individual has been punished or even reprimanded.
While this development broke during the administration of your predecessor, Mr. Enrique Pena Nieto, the danger lingers for journalists. Our organization calls on your leadership to ensure that a thorough investigation is completed so the perpetrators can be brought to justice and Mexico’s journalists can be assured that surveillance has been stopped.

The Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) approved freedom of expression principles for the digital era on Oct. 22 in Buenos Aires, stating: “The Authorities must not use digital surveillance mechanisms for the purpose of violating the liberties and privacy of citizens, except in cases where a legitimate goal is being pursued in accordance with the provisions of human rights conventions. Widespread surveillance is unacceptable under any circumstances.”

We also recall that in 1994, representatives of the Americas gathered in Mexico City for the IAPA’s Hemisphere Conference on Free Speech. It adopted 10 Press Freedom Principles, including No. 4: “Freedom of expression and of the press are severely limited by murder, terrorism, kidnapping, intimidation, the unjust imprisonment of journalists, the destruction of facilities, violence of any kind and impunity for perpetrators. Such acts must be investigated promptly and punished harshly.”

The OPC hopes that you are the kind of leader aspiring to protect press freedom for Mexican journalists working to inform a democratic society.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Bill Collins
Chair of the Press Freedom Committee
Overseas Press Club of America