PBI-Canada calls on Deputy Prime Minister Freeland to support journalists at-risk in Mexico

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo: Mexican journalist María Elena Ferral Hernández was shot to death on March 30, 2020. 133 journalists have been murdered in Mexico over the past 20 years.

Last year, in a major speech she gave in the United Kingdom, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland stated: “The troubling reality is that journalists and other members of the media are increasingly the target of abuse and attack. This must stop. Journalists must be able to do their work safely and without fear of reprisal.”

In that speech, Freeland announced the launch of “a Media Freedom Coalition that will connect governments with civil society organizations and members of the press to save journalists and media workers at risk.”

The previous year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also highlighted that an international effort was needed to protect journalists.

Canada then signed the Global Pledge on Media Freedom that commits it to “harnessing the power of our diplomatic networks” to support “mechanisms to raise and respond to individual cases of violations and abuse.”

The situation for journalists in Mexico is perilous.

As of this past June, 19 journalists have been killed in Mexico since President Andrés Manuel López Obrador took office in December 2018.

And globally last year, Mexico was the country with the second highest number of journalists killed just behind war-torn Syria.

This past week, the Associated Press reported that the Chamber of Deputies, the 500-seat lower house of Mexico’s congress, had voted to eliminate 109 government trust funds, including the one that finances protection for threatened journalists.

This matter is now expected to go before the Senate, the 128-seat upper house, this coming Wednesday October 14.

The Centre for Research and Analysis (Fundar) has sounded the alarm on this and says: “There is no clarity in the process of eliminating [the trusts] – nor in where the money from their liquidation will be sent.”

The Mexican Federation of Public Human Rights Organizations (FMOPDH), the National Commission for Human Rights (CNDH) and the Office in Mexico of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN -DH) have also issued a statement calling for careful review of this decision along with a process of public participation and input.

And letters expressing concern and calling for a reconsideration of this decision have also been sent Mexican officials by Heike Hänsel (a member of the Bundestag in Germany) and ten members of the European Parliament.

PBI-Canada asks the Deputy Prime Minister to call on President López Obrador to take steps to strengthen Mexico’s protection mechanism for journalists, to adopt measures to address the violence against journalists, and to reconsider his government’s move to eliminate the trust fund that finances the protection of threatened journalists.

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