Just three days after the latest slaying of a news reporter in Mexico, UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Monday, Nov. 2, called for the protection of journalists on the occasion of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.
“When journalists are targeted, societies as a whole pay a price. If we do not protect journalists, our ability to remain informed and make evidence-based decisions is severely hampered,” said Guterres in a message for this international day.
Mexico has one of the world’s highest number of dead journalists, according to the International Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), and is currently ranked as the highest in the hemisphere.
Late Thursday, Oct. 29, Mexican television journalist Arturo Alba Juárez was found dead in his car in the northern border town of Ciudad Juárez after having been shot at least 11 times, raising this year’s count to at least six murders.
The covid-19 pandemic has only served to highlight new perils for journalists and media workers around the world, as the number of attacks on their physical safety has grown, Gutteres said.
There were at least 21 attacks on journalists covering protests in the first half of 2020 — equal to the number of such attacks in the whole of 2017.
There have also been additional constraints on the work of journalists, including threats of prosecution, arrest, imprisonment, denial of journalistic access and failures to investigate and prosecute crimes against them, he noted.
“When journalists cannot do their jobs in safety, we lose an important defense against the pandemic of misinformation and disinformation that has spread online,” he said.
“Fact-based news and analysis depend on the protection and safety of journalists conducting independent reporting, rooted in the fundamental tenet: journalism without fear or favor.”
Guterres went on to say that “as the world fights the covid-19 pandemic, I reiterate my call for a free press that can play its essential role in peace, justice, sustainable development and human rights.”
Since 2000, 133 journalists have been murdered in Mexico, 10 of them in 2019 alone, and in 99.3 percent of the cases, no one has faced punishment for these assaults, according to the Mexican media watchdog NGO Article 19.