UN: Mexico fifth dangerous for journalists

Drug-cartel violence said to be important contributor to the number of media professionals killed in the country.

    According to official figures, at least 35,000 have been killed in drug violence in Mexico since late 2006 [AFP]

    Mexico is the fifth most dangerous country in the world for journalists, with 70 killed since the year 2000, according to a joint assessment released by the UN and the Organisation of American States (OAS).

    The report, released on Monday, said 13 journalists had been killed so far in 2011 in Mexico.

    While motives vary in journalists' killings, one factor is the bloody drug-cartel violence in the country.

    Frank La Rue, the UN Human Rights Council's investigator on freedom of expression, did not specify which four countries were considered more dangerous, but other press groups ranked Mexico third, behind only nations such as Pakistan and Iraq.

    The Central American nation of Honduras has seen an increase in journalist killings.

    Mexico's National Commission on Human Rights also lists 70 journalists killed in Mexico since 2000. In addition, it said 13 had disappeared.

    Other press freedom groups considered the figure of 70 to be high, and differed on the definition of a journalist in Mexico's homicide figures. The Committee to Protect Journalists, for instance, said that since 2000, 48 journalists were killed and disappeared in Mexico, including three newspaper distributors.

    Plan to protect journalists

    Catalina Botero, an OAS representative, called on Mexico's government to implement a plan to protect journalists.

    Felipe de Jesus Zamora, Mexico's assistant foreign relations secretary, said the government had taken steps to help protect reporters.

    But Roberto Rock, the editorial director Mexico's El Universal newspaper, said the protection decree implemented by the Mexican government in 2010 had not accomplished much.

    "This mechanism doesn't have the necessary guidelines to even know how it will work," Rock said.

    According to official figures, at least 35,000 have been killed in drug violence in Mexico since late 2006, when President Felipe Calderon launched his crackdown on organised crime.

    Other sources, including local media, said the number was closer to 40,000. The federal government has not released an update of its numbers since December last year.

    SOURCE: Associated Press


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