• “The government is absolutely respectful of freedom of expression and  of what journalists think, say, publish or broadcast,” he declared.
  • The free expression of ideas is an inalienable right of citizenship and an irrevocable conquest of democracy, whose defense concerns us all, he stated.
  • This openness is reflected in the breadth, vitality and diversity of journalism in this country, he noted.

President Enrique Peña Nieto said today that, “Freedom of speech and press is the most powerful instrument against authoritarianism, intolerance and lies; it is the best guarantee for advancing a genuine society of rights and freedoms”.

As he inaugurated the 72nd Assembly of the Inter American Press Association, the president declared that, “The government is absolutely respectful of freedom of expression and  of what journalists think, say, publish or broadcast”.

He noted that, “The free expression of ideas is an inalienable right of citizenship and an irrevocable conquest of democracy, whose defense concerns us all”.

The president said that in the era of information and knowledge, “Governments have to act in a glass box, shoulder to shoulder with society and under media scrutiny: that’s how we understand it in Mexico”.

 “This openness,” he said, “Is reflected in the breadth, vitality and diversity of journalism in this country”.

He said he was convinced that, “The challenges of democracy can only be met through more democracy, openness, transparency, accountability and more power to the people in dealing with public issues”.

Undoubtedly, he said, “Many of the challenges and concerns governments face today are shared by the print and digital media”.

The president added that, “It is the duty of a democratic state to provide guarantees to journalists to exercise their profession, especially in view of the threat to press freedom posed by organized crime”.

“Intimidation and attacks against journalists not only affect their integrity and the exercise of individual freedoms, but also harm us as a society,” he explained.

He said that, “One of the effects of the crisis of violence registered in Mexico at the end of the previous administration was the increase in the number of acts of aggression against media professionals”. In response, he added, “In 2010, the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Freedom of Expression Crimes was established, followed by the Mechanism for the Protection of Persons Defending Human Rights  and Journalists in 2012”.

He added that during this administration, “We have strengthened the institutional capacities of both agencies to meet this challenge”. He said that within the framework of this commitment, “We have made operational and technical improvements to the Protection Mechanism, with the assistance of the international organization Freedom House”.

He noted that as a result of this effort, the mechanism currently protects 452 people, 285 of whom are human rights defenders and 167 journalists”.

He added that for its part, “The Special Prosecutor has new legal powers to address and process denunciations of attacks on journalists in the exercise of their profession. To date, the Special Prosecutor has processed 48 cases”. He noted that in support of the Protection Mechanism, the Special Prosecutor, “Has processed 249 requests for protective measures for the benefit of journalists and their families”.

President Peña Nieto  said that the Mexican government is the first to recognize the need to consolidate these instruments. “We are determined to make adjustments where required, and change whatever is necessary for them to perform their functions effectively,” he said.

“We will continue working with non-governmental and human rights organizations, both nationally and internationally,” he said.

He explained that, “In order for this effort to deliver better results, it is also necessary for state governments to assume their responsibility,” and confirmed the government’s determination to, “Continue working with local authorities to improve conditions so that journalists can do their work”.

“I am aware that, despite the progress in recent years, there are still crimes against journalists, which we must solve,” he said. “I am confident that strengthening the Protection and Prosecutor’s Mechanism, together with the recent structural changes in government transparency, the fight against corruption, and criminal justice, have put us on the right track to reducing impunity,” he added.

At the event, the president signed the Declaration of Chapultepec, the guiding document of the Inter American Press Association, which has already been signed by more than 60 heads of state in Latin America and the Caribbean.

FREEDOM OF THE PRESS IS AN ESSENTIAL COMPONENT OF A SOLID DEMOCRATIC SYSTEM: PIERRE MANIGAULT

Pierre Manigault, President of the Inter American Press Association (IAPA), thanked President Peña Nieto, “And all Mexicans, the media and journalists for their great hospitality to the Inter American Press Association during our visits, including that significant meeting in Chapultepec Castle in 1994, when the Declaration of Chapultepec was created”.

“This document constitutes the heart and soul of our mission and has inspired other treaties,” in addition to underlining the importance of press freedom as an essential component of a solid democratic system.

Pierre Manigault said this is the first time in nine years that the IAPA has not had a deficit. “This is extremely important news, because having an organization that is fiscally and economically sustainable allows us to pursue our most important goals and projects: the protection of press freedom and the fight against impunity”.

 WITHOUT FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION, THERE CAN BE NO FREEDOM: EALY ORTIZ

Juan Francisco Ealy Ortiz, President and CEO of El Universal and President of the IAPA Commission against Impunity  noted that President Peña Nieto will have completed four years of his term in December. During this period, his government has had major achievements such as the Pact for Mexico, which achieved, “A historic consensus to undertake a large body of legal and structural transformations, including energy, education, telecommunications and corruption reforms, awaited for decades and essential to building the country Mexicans need”.

He added that President Peña Nieto, “Has proved to be the leader of a democratic country, with critical citizens demanding accountability, who are jealous of their freedoms,” and added: “We regard him as a leader for our times”.

He recalled that the Declaration of Chapultepec, signed today by the President of Mexico, “Constitutes our guiding document and is one of the strongest that exists in the world for freedom of the press and expression”. Signed by over 60 Heads of State of the continent, the Declaration states: “Without freedom, there can be no true order, stability or justice, and without freedom of expression, there can be no freedom.”

 Ealy Ortiz pointed out that, “The media are a space for agreements”. He said that, “They should be an instrument for construction rather than destruction,” adding that in difficult times, “We must act with wisdom and the sense of responsibility demanded by the circumstances. This is an opportunity to transform, renew and build the future”. “Freedom of expression," he said, “is one of the pillars of democracy”.