The deadly hazards of the most dangerous job in Mexico are well-know locally, but the issue has been cast into the global media spotlight this week.
Friday 14 June, 2019: In Mexico, choosing a career in news reporting is life threatening.
Attacks on journalists have been a long-running hazard of the job, but the issue has been thrown into the global media spotlight this week after a seasoned journalist was gunned down in front of her home in the state of Tabasco.
Reports say Norma Sarabia had worked as a crime and police reporter for 15 years and was currently writing for the Tabasco Hoy. It is alleged that two men on motorbikes shot Sarabia in front of her home in the Huimanguillo area, southeast of the country.
The ongoing violence against journalists in the country makes it one of the most dangerous places in the world to work in the media, a job which requires calling authorities, gangs and powerful people to account on a daily basis.
As for the gunmen, the Tabasco Hoy has announced a reward for information leading to Sarabia’s killers, but in a country where only seven per cent of crimes resulted in a criminal investigation in 2017 and less than 3% resulted in a conviction, impunity for crimes is high.
The morning after Sarabia’s murder, reports of the kidnapping of another journalist – Marcos Miranda Cogco, – surfaced in the state of Veracruz.
97% – the rate of criminal justice impunity
21 out of 32 – Tabasco’s ranking among other states, Mexico Peace Index
389 – recorded attacks on journalists in the first six months of 2018
According to the Mexico Peace Index 2019, the Free Flow of Information pillar in Mexico has deteriorated over 6% since 2005.
A 40% deterioration in the Freedom of the Press Index, a composite measure of the degree of print, broadcast and internet freedom, drove the decline. Violence against journalists was a key factor in the deterioration.
Along with Brazil, Colombia and Honduras, Mexico ranks among the most dangerous places in the world for journalists.
In 2017, 507 cases of attacks against journalists were recorded, up by 19 per cent from 2016. By July of 2018, 389 attacks had already been registered in the year, over 40 per cent more than in that time period in the previous year.
The Special Prosecutor for Attention to Crimes Committed against the Freedom of Expression (FEADLE) in Mexico has been able to rule on only eight cases, while 1,120 investigations have been initiated since its inception in 2017.
Mexico ranked seventh worst on the Committee to Protect Journalists’ Global Impunity Index in 2018, which measures the proportion of unsolved murders of journalists against the country’s total population.
Freely disseminated information is a key aspect of peaceful societies. A society with well-distributed information is more likely to make informed decisions.
As part of IEP’s Positive Peace framework for peacebuilding, free and independent media disseminates information in a way that leads to greater knowledge and helps individuals, business and civil society make better decisions.
This leads to better outcomes and more rational responses in times of crisis.