Mexico: New journalism award honours those covering rights abuses

The ‘Breach-Valdez’ award will recognise journalists covering human rights abuses and corruption.

    The UN-Mexico Breach-Valdez award will be presented on May 3, which is also World Press Freedom Day [Source: ONU Mexico]
    The UN-Mexico Breach-Valdez award will be presented on May 3, which is also World Press Freedom Day [Source: ONU Mexico]

    The UN and AFP news agency have launched a new award to recognise journalists who their lives to cover human rights abuses in Mexico, one of the most dangerous countries to be a reporter. 

    The 'Breach-Valdez' award will pay tribute to former journalists Miroslava Breach and Javier Valdez who were murdered last year.

    Valdez, highly acclaimed and award-winning journalist, was shot in broad daylight outside the offices of the newspaper he cofounded, Riodoce, in the northwestern Mexican capital of Sinaloa state, Culiacan.

    In late 2017, investigative journalist Breach was killed in broad daylight before dropping off her son to school. She focused on covering the links between organised crime and politcians for the Mexican newspaper, La Jornada. 

    Since 2000, more than 100 journalists have been murdered in Mexico, which was considered the most dangerous place to be a journalist in 2017 - ahead of Iraq and Syria - with 14 deaths, according to the International Press Institute.

    The "Breach-Valdez" award recognises those "defending human rights" and aims "to provide visibility to those fighting against impunity and the systemic violence which is exercised against journalists", said Giancarlo Summa, director at the UN's ONU-DH.

    Summa also encouraged authorities to "put an end to impunity" and create "protective mechanisms for journalists".

    In 2017, according to the rights group, Articulo 19, there were 507 attacks on journalists in Mexico.  

    About 48 percent of those attacks involved government officials and eight percent are carried out by criminal organisations, Articulo 19 found. 

    The representative for the office of the High Commission for the ONU-DH, Jan Jarab, said it will continue to work for the improved freedom of expression for journalists and work on reducing threats and impunity.

    Mexican journalist Jose Reveles said that attacks on journalists are not being stopped, and that, specifically, they "aren't being investigated, they're not being punished and they're only increasing in a really worrying manner.

    "A society which kills journalists is not acceptable; attacking the press also means attacking democracy," said Sergio Rodríguez Blanco, coordinator of journalism in the Ibero-American University.

    The annual prize is also supported by UNESCO, the Ibero-American University, the Press and Democracy Programme (PRENDE) and the French Embassy in Mexico.

    It will be presented on May 3 in Mexico City, which also marks the World Press Freedom Day. The winning journalist will be invited to France to discuss free speech, and will provide an investigative scholarship in journalism at the Ibero-American University.

    Deadliest beat: Reporting on Mexico's war on drugs


    Deadliest beat: Reporting on Mexico's war on drugs

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News


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