The International Press Institute (IPI) expresses its renewed alarm over the continued extreme level of violence against journalists in Mexico. Recent incidents, including the killing of two journalists in November alone and the kidnapping of three others, underscore the urgency of addressing this violence. Mexican authorities must ensure an environment where journalists can carry out their work without fear of attacks and abuse, and where perpetrators are held accountable without impunity.
Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalism outside war zones, with a surge in violence against the press in recent years. IPI has recorded 14 killings of journalists in Mexico in 2022 and eight in 2023 so far.
November witnessed a further escalation of violence against journalists The murder of photojournalist Ismael Villagómez Tapia on November 16 occurred just less than two weeks after the killing of journalist Héctor Noguera Trujillo on November 9. The killings underscore the need for comprehensive measures to address the safety crisis and the prevailing culture of impunity.
Moreover, Mexican authorities said that unidentified attackers had wounded four photojournalists reportedly working for local news outlets in the southern Mexican city of Chilpancingo. This incident came days after the abduction of three journalists in Taxco, who were later freed.
The motives behind these and many other attacks largely remain unknown. Over and over again, Mexico has failed to properly investigate crimes against journalists, often excluding or dismissing journalistic work as a possible motive. This failure fuels further violence, perpetuating a cycle of impunity that threatens press freedom. The impunity rate for the killing of journalists stands at 95%, according to estimates by Mexican press freedom groups.
“November was a horrible reminder of the dangers and threats that journalists in Mexico continue to face – despite years of lip service from the authorities that they will finally act to stop attacks on the press”, IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen said. “Mexican law enforcement must fully investigate the killings of Ismael Villagómez Tapia and Héctor Noguera Trujillo and all other acts of violence against journalists, ensuring that the victims’ journalistic work is taken into account as a possible motive.”
Despite the change in Mexico’s presidency from Enrique Peña Nieto to Andrés Manuel López Obrador, journalists in Mexico continue to face not only physical dangers but also the abuse of spyware and surveillance at the hands of the authorities.
In addition, López Obrador has consistently verbally attacked journalists, including calling his critics in the press as threats to the nation. In May, he targeted the free expression organization ARTICLE 19 and Mexico’s civil society on World Press Freedom Day.
This year, IPI and IMS jointly awarded the 2023 World Press Freedom Hero award to Mexican investigative journalist Carmen Aristegui for her decades of commitment to watchdog reporting in the face of targeted efforts from various Mexican administrations to silence her.