Coinciding with the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, during the first week of November, the IWMF participated alongside 16 international and Mexican civil society organizations in a Press Freedom Mission to Mexico. The country has the highest number of cases of murders of journalists in impunity.
Members of the mission met with President López Obrador’s office and other high-level officials to demand an end to impunity and the systematic stigmatization of the news media by the government. President López Obrador has called journalists adversaries and accused them of biting the hand that took the muzzle off. An army of trolls has amplified this message online, creating a hostile climate and eroding public support for journalists.
Female journalists are at especially high risk of online attacks in Mexico.
When a member of the mission raised a question about this stigmatization in the president’s daily press conference, she too was attacked on social media. The government failed to acknowledge the press freedom crisis.
The challenges Mexican journalists face from cartels and local authorities are huge, and the IWMF is supporting them to work more safely through ongoing in-country programming that includes training and reporting grants. We provide comprehensive Hostile Environment and First Aid Training (HEFAT) tailored to the specific physical and digital security issues Mexican journalists confront daily. Sixteen reporters from nine states and Mexico City participated in our November HEFAT, coming from areas with some of the highest levels of violence in the country like Veracruz, Guanajuato, and Guerrero.
“Insecurity, lack of access to justice and high levels of corruption, in addition to the lack of guarantees to exercise journalism and freedom of expression fully, generate in Mexico a hostile and very conducive climate for attacks on journalists either from governments, many of them infiltrated, as well as organized crime groups. To this is added the lack of guarantees from the media to provide security in carrying out our work, especially when journalists are threatened or suffer aggression. That is why this type of training offered by the IWMF to journalists in Mexico is important and necessary, because it provides us with tools to know how to react in different contexts, from situations of protest to shootings and kidnappings, with simulations that in practice become very real.”
— Analy Santillan Nuño, Guadalajara, Jalisco
“All journalism requires the digital space, the published story doesn’t stay on paper, but it is digitalized. This includes information from witnesses or testimonies that you may need to protect. It is important that journalists know how to protect a source that may be at risk, including the journalist’s own personal information. It is of vital importance that they learn how to respond to online attacks and to administer the digital information they have in their hands.”
— Ninoska Perez, Digital Security Trainer