One Mexican journalist attacked every 13 hours in 2022: Report

A report by the group Article 19 has documented nearly 700 crimes against media workers, the most on record.

A protest document reading 'no more deaths'
Protesters demonstrate against the killing of Mexican journalist Miroslava Breach in March 2017 [File: Carlos Jasso/Reuters]

An annual report by the free speech group Article 19 has found that Mexican journalists faced record levels of harassment, intimidation and violence in 2022.

The group recorded 696 crimes against Mexican media workers, the highest number since the group started keeping records in 2007. That amounts to nearly one attack against a journalist every 13 hours, according to the report released on Tuesday.

“In Mexico, journalists are killed, but they are also intimidated and silenced systematically and recurrently through harassment, stigmatization, threats and the illegitimate use of public power,” the report said.

The report found that, rather than combatting the violence, state actors and security forces were responsible for more than 40 percent of the aggressions against media workers. Of those cases, more than half involved reporters exploring issues of corruption.

Ultimately, 12 journalists were murdered in 2022, a tie with 2017 for the most lethal year on record.

The most common form of harassment over the last three years was “intimidation and harassment”, according to the report. An estimated 181 cases were recorded in 2022 alone.

The violence against the press mirrored larger issues of violence and human rights abuses in Mexico. Overall, 2022 marked an “unimaginable milestone” for human rights violations, with more than 100,000 people recorded as missing as of May 2022, the report explained.

In Tuesday’s report, Article 19 regional director Leopoldo Maldonado decried failed government efforts to ensure security and justice for reporters amid the deteriorating conditions. He called progress on the issue “almost nonexistent”.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been criticised in the past for his antagonistic relationship with the Mexican press. The report accuses Lopez Obrador of contributing to a hostile atmosphere for reporters through “threats, intimidation and harassment”.

His administration has been accused of using Pegasus surveillance technology, developed by the Israeli NSO Group, to spy on journalists and human rights advocates.

But Lopez Obrador has also lambasted the use of such technology. In July 2021, the British newspaper The Guardian revealed that Lopez Obrador and his close allies had potentially been targeted using the spyware.

An estimated 15,000 Mexican phone numbers were reported to be compromised, including those of 25 Mexican journalists.

The NSO Group has been at the centre of the debate about commercial spyware being used to target political dissent, and the group was sanctioned by the United States in 2021.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies