Press release April 27, 2015
Reprisals against Journalists Continue in Mexico
Freedom House issued the following statement in response to digital attacks on the website Aristegui Noticias after it published an investigative report implicating federal police in mass killings.
In response to digital attacks on the website Aristegui Noticias after it published an investigative report implicating federal police in the killings of 16 unarmed civilians in Michoacán, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“Investigative journalism in Mexico is in crisis,” said Carlos Ponce, director of Latin America Programs. “The attacks on Aristegui Noticias are the latest example of journalists facing reprisals, threats, or physical or digital attacks for publishing investigations critical of government leaders or challenging official narratives. The Mexican state should demonstrate its commitment to freedom of information and expression by investigating these incidents and ensuring that journalists are able to perform their critical role of informing citizens.”
On April 19, journalist Laura Castellanos published a report headlined “Fueron los Federales” in the weekly newspaper Proceso and the news portal Aristegui Noticias. Her reporting includes testimonials and video evidence supporting the conclusion that federal police were responsible for the killings of 16 people on January 6th in Apatzingán in Michoacán state, challenging the official government version, which alleged that only 8 individuals were killed due to shots fired among civilians and rural police.
Immediately after the publication of the report, digital attacks against the website Aristegui Noticias forced it offline for hours. This was the second instance in which the website came under attack in recent weeks following the firing of journalist Carmen Aristegui in March in what many allege to be a punishment for her investigation into the “Casa Blanca” scandal, which revealed that President Enrique Peña Nieto and his wife had purchased a multimillion dollar mansion from a favored government contractor.
Mexico is rated Partly Free in Freedom in the World 2015, Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2014, and Partly Free in Freedom on the Net 2014.