Mexican Senate Approves Amendment to Protect Journalists

Freedom House welcomes the Mexican Senate’s approval of a constitutional amendment that would make crimes against journalists a federal offense. The amendment passed unanimously on March 13 after three years of deliberation, and now requires ratification by a majority of Mexico’s 32 state legislatures. Since 2000, 13 journalists have disappeared and 75 have been killed – there also have been 23 bomb and hand grenade attacks against media, making Mexico one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists. The constitutional amendment would allow federal authorities to investigate these crimes and punish the perpetrators. Most criminal offenses against journalists are committed by organized crime or by state or local authorities who operate in a climate of impunity. Freedom House downgraded Mexico’s Freedom of the Press rating from Partly Free to Not Free in 2011 because of increasing violence against and censorship of journalists being orchestrated by powerful drug cartels.

“Amending the Constitution is an important first step,” said Mariclaire Acosta, Director of Freedom House’s Mexico Program, “But it is just the beginning of a process.”

Mexico is due to elect a new legislature in federal elections on July 1, which could seriously delay the process of implementing the law. Freedom House encourages Mexico’s state legislatures to act quickly to approve the amendment in an effort to protect the country’s imperiled journalists.

Learn more:

Freedom in the World 2011: Mexico

Freedom of the Press 2011: Mexico