They point to his country’s ‘shameful’ record of ‘outrages againt the press’, call for proper investigations of killings and demand an end to impunity
More than 500 writers, journalists and artists from around the world have signed a letter to Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto, calling on him to stop the violence against journalists in his country.
The signatories from more than 40 countries include Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, Gael García Bernal, Noam Chomsky, John Coetzee, Guillermo del Toro, Paul Auster, Alan Rusbridger, Gavin MacFadyen, Arianna Huffington, Christiane Amanpour and Jo Glanville, the director of English PEN.
The letter, posted on the website of the US chapter of PEN International and backed by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), expresses indignation about the deadly attacks on Mexican reporters.
The letter refers to the murder of photojournalist Ruben Espinosa in Mexico City on 31 July, calling his killing “only the latest in a long series of outrages against the press.” It continued:
“Since 2000, dozens of journalists have been killed in Mexico, and approximately 20 more remain disappeared. The great majority of these crimes have never been prosecuted.
According to the Mexican Human Rights Commission, there is evidence that points to the involvement of government officials in many of the attacks against journalists and media outlets.
The widespread and extreme physical threats faced by reporters in Mexico have drawn the attention of many concerned with international freedom of expression and press freedom, including PEN and CPJ, who have campaigned to end censorship by the bullet.”
Referring to Espinosa’s murder, the letter said that he fled to Mexico City after receiving what he considered severe threats to his life in the state of Veracruz. It stated:
“Reporters in Veracruz who receive threats are often convinced that they come directly from the local government.
Since the current governor of Veracruz [Javier Duarte] took power in 2010, journalists have been harassed, threatened and killed in unprecedented numbers: 14 have been murdered in atrocious fashion, and three have disappeared in the same time period. In each of these cases local justice has dismissed the victim’s profession as probable cause.”
The letter, in calling on Peña Nieto to take action to end the violence against members of the media, said:
“In your country, the statistics are disastrous regarding impunity in crimes against the press: according to the Human Rights Commission, 89% of the murders remain unsolved.”
It urged the president to “guarantee the immediate and effective investigation” of Espinosa’s murder “and the shameful number of journalists in Mexico who have met the same fate”.
It also demanded a “thorough investigation of state and municipal officials who, in each case, may have been involved” along with an undertaking to review “the procedures established to protect reporters’ lives.”
The Guardian | Roy Greenslade