According to a report published Tuesday by human rights advocates in the first half of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s term violence against journalists has increased by 85%, compared to the first half of his predecessor’s term.
The report by Article 19, an international human rights group, described Mexico as “the most dangerous country for journalists” outside of active war zones. Since 2000, 148 journalists have been murdered in Mexico, nine were murdered in 2021, and seven have been murdered as of March 14, 2022.
In addition to murder, there were 343 reported attacks on journalists in 2020. The report claims that “public servants perpetrated 188 of these 343 attacks.”
The report follows earlier calls from Article 19 for Mexico to take action after four journalists were murdered in January. It noted that the Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, an independent body funded by Mexico’s Ministry of the Interior, has faced “serious budget cuts” since 2020.
In addition to physical attacks, Article 19 reported that President Obrador criticized the media “an average six times a month” in 2021. The human rights group also called for Sanjuana Martínez, director of the state-run press agency Notimex, to be held accountable for “using public resources to coordinate online attacks against journalists and employees who had been critical of her management.”
Even the EU adopted a resolution condemning the “alarming rate at which journalists and human rights defenders are being threatened, harassed, and killed”. The resolution stated that President Obrador has often used press briefings to “denigrate and intimidate independent journalists”. President Obrador responded by calling the EU “sheep” and calling the resolution a “coup-like strategy.”
The report sends a grim message. Without action, attacks against the media, and freedom of speech are likely to continue.