‘Mexico is one of the world’s deadliest countries for news media staff’

Posted: 21/12/2020

Mexico is one of the world’s deadliest countries to operate in for news media staff’ but RPS Partnership will be running an extensive training programme in 2021 with the Internataional Women's Media Foundation IWMF to assist jouralists to stay safe. 

So why is Mexico so dangerous?

We look at why… and compare this country with Bolsonaro’s Brazil, another place where it can be dangerous to be a journalist.

Both Mexico and Brazil are unfortunate to suffer annually from a significant number of news media casualties; with Mexico spearheading these figures. Sadly, journalists and news media staff frequently suffer from threats, physical attacks and cold-blooded murder at the hands of criminal groups.

Why do news media staff get targeted?

Often as a consequence of their reported content. Typically, in both nations, journalists do their best to expose and highlight wrongdoings in their nation. They aim to report on misjustice and provide a platform from where justice can be served. However, it is as a result of these reports which through exposing the negative activity surrounding organised crime and political stories/policies, comes vicious attacks and unforgiving acts from those involved in such activities.

A specific arena (primarily in Mexico) which results in a large amount of attention from criminal groups, is the reporting of corruption. Too often journalists and news media staff receive punishment and suffering at the hands of the morally corrupt, solely since their reports do not suit certain groups’/individual’s agendas. The mistreatment and silencing of journalists is often accommodated by a collusions which pose a grave threat to journalists’ safety and cripples the judicial system at all levels.

How have corrupt indivuals got away with this for so long?

‘Mexico is sinking ever deeper into a spiral of violence and impunity and continues to be Latin America’s most dangerous country for reporters.’ is a conmon statement by those working in the region.

An underlying issue for both nations is a high impunity rate (low prosecution rates) and lack of effectiveness within both country’s justice systems. Hand in hand, these two elements provide a platform for a consistent and growing rate of incidents against journalists. Without a trusted, impenetrable justice system, those responsible for these heinous crimes cannot be penalised…

The lack of attention from both governments towards their justice system is a big piece of what should be a simple puzzle to solve. However, corruption and bribes are too much an influence. The ladder of authority is one which cannot afford to lose a step when battling crime. However, too many criminal groups have access to financially manipulate the figures on these steps, from the bottom of the ladder (e.g. law enforcement) to the very top (e.g. key politicians and judicial staff) – hindering any hopes at successful, complete justice procedures.

2021- good motives from the Mexican Government

Good motives but need more commitment…

The Mexican President Andres Obrador declared his aspiration to combat corruption and the continuing violence towards news media staff, but has not yet allocated sufficient enough resources to do so. Concluding that, although the Mexican and Brazilian presidents have contrasting approaches, the outcome imay well be the same in 2021.

Despite Non-Governmental and Private Organisations constantly working hard to provide news media staff with support programmes and funding, there are still gaps. If the high impunity rates referred to earlier can be stemmed at the source, alongside an implementation of more effective strategies from those at the top (i.e. politicians), then strict and consistent persecution may be successful in penalising those responsible, whilst simultaneously acting as a deterrent for those who seek to do the same. Thus, gradually reducing the level of violence towards news media staff.

RPS Partnership plans to play its part in helping keep journalists safe by empowering them to develop the key skills they need to plan and prepare for their stories as well as repsond if it goes wrong. Some of our programmes will continue in the virtual classroom, but we hope to return to Mexico and Brazil as soon as we are able.

Please contact us on [email protected] if you are interested in attending training in the virtual classroom or in person.

Photos:

RPS Partnership in Mexico City

Photo by Ricardo Esquivel 

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