Key Developments

  • Amid climate of impunity, authorities botch investigations into key cases.

  • Federalization of anti-press crimes is made official, but implementation is slow.

The climate of press freedom in Mexico, despite a new president, remained perilous. Although President Enrique Peña Nieto gave final approval to a measure adopted at the end of Felipe Calderón's term that gives federal authorities broader jurisdiction to investigate crimes against freedom of expression, the special prosecutor's office designated to handle such investigations dragged its feet in exercising its new powers. Finally, in August, the prosecutor officially took on its first case, although it had not charged or prosecuted anyone for a journalist's murder in late year. Meanwhile, the press corps continued to be violently targeted as competing drug cartels and law enforcement and the military battled throughout the country. Media outlets were attacked, press freedom organizations threatened, and reporters abducted. At least three journalists were killed in 2013 under unclear circumstances. In the face of such violence, media outlets in areas controlled by cartels turned to self-censorship. Following in the footsteps of other besieged outlets, the Saltillo edition of the daily Zócalo published an editorial that said it would no longer cover organized crime, as a way to protect its staff. Mexico City, long considered a refuge from the violence in the rest of the country, experienced the encroachment of organized crime. Four journalists covering protests against education reforms were jailed, and two of them were held for five days before being released on exorbitant bail, according to news reports. Media analysts welcomed a communications bill that they said would increase competition and open up broadcast ownership.

[Refworld note: The sections that follow represent a best effort to transcribe onto a single page information that appears in tabs on the CPJ's own pages, which also include a number of dynamically-generated graphics not readily reproducible here. Refworld researchers are therefore strongly recommended to check against the original report: Attacks on the Press in 2013.]

Botched investigations: 2

CPJ documented at least two botched investigations into attacks on journalists that left one dead and another injured. Serious irregularities emerged in the case against a man convicted in April of the 2012 murder of Proceso magazine correspondent Regina Martínez Pérez. Two months later, the sentence was vacated. In September, a judge dismissed charges against one of the gunmen implicated in the 1997 assassination attempt against Zeta magazine editor J. Jesús Blancornelas.

Broken justice:

1 Journalist threatened after reporting on Regina Martínez Pérez's murder.

2 of 3 Judges voted to vacate a 38-year prison sentence handed down to a man accused of killing Martínez. The judges cited irregularities in the case.

10 years Marco Arturo Quiñones Sánchez was imprisoned on charges of attacking Blancornelas before the judge dismissed the case. Investigations by authorities and Zeta placed him at the scene.

0 of 11 Other men implicated in ordering and carrying out attack on Blancornelas are convicted. Four were imprisoned on other charges in late year, four were deceased, and three were fugitives, according to Zeta.

Journalist missing: 1

Sergio Landa Rosado, who covers the crime beat for the local daily Diario Cardel in the state of Veracruz, was reported missing in January. Local journalists told CPJ that Landa's disappearance made it clear that they could not cover the activities of organized crime groups. They said they assumed that Landa had been abducted and killed.

Drug-related violence has made Mexico one of the world's most dangerous countries for the press, according to CPJ research. More than 50 journalists have been killed or have disappeared since 2007.

Impunity Index rating: 7th

Mexico is the seventh worst nation in combating deadly anti-press violence, according to CPJ research. With at least 15 unsolved murders over the past decade, Mexico moved up a ranking on CPJ's Impunity Index, which spotlights countries where journalists are murdered regularly and killers go free.

CPJ's 2013 Impunity Index:

1. Iraq
2. Somalia
3. Philippines
4. Sri Lanka
5. Colombia
6. Afghanistan
7. Mexico
8. Pakistan
9. Russia
10. Brazil
11. Nigeria
12. India

Journalists forced to flee, 2012-13: 3

With three journalists forced to flee their homes between June 1, 2012, and May 31, 2013, Mexico ranked among the worst on CPJ's annual list of countries that send its journalists into exile. Mexico is one of the world's most dangerous countries for the press, according to CPJ research. More than 50 journalists have been killed or have disappeared since 2007.

Journalists in exile 2012-2013:

  • 9 Iran
  • 8 Somalia
  • 6 Ethiopia
  • 5 Syria
  • 3 Eritrea
  • 3 Sudan
  • 3 Sri Lanka
  • 3 Mexico
  • 2 Nigeria
  • 2 Gambia

This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.