• .He reaffirmed his commitment to combating impunity, to ensure that the death of journalists does not go unpunished and the culprits are found.

President Enrique Peña Nieto today led the extraordinary meeting of the National Governors’ Conference (CONAGO) at which various actions were announced to ensure freedom of expression and the protection of journalists and human rights advocates.

He underlined the Mexican State’s commitment to strengthening its institutional capacity and ensuring the free exercise of journalistic work in the country.

”I will fight until the last day of my mandate to strengthen the conditions for the full exercise of the rigorous, courageous professional journalism that Mexico needs,” he said.

He said that, “In response to the challenges we face in the fight against organized crime, Mexico must be known in the world as a democratic country that defends freedom of expression. Mexico must be known for safeguarding freedom of the press. Mexico must be known for protecting journalists and human rights defenders”.

He stressed that, “The actions which the Federation and the states have pledged to implement today will bring us closer to these lofty goals”.

“In response the threat of crimes against journalists, Mexicans will act with union and joint actions. We do so convinced that the world shares our indignation and supports our cause. In unity, we will assert justice and freedom of expression as essential elements of a democratic country and a society of rights and freedoms,” he said.

At the event, held in the Adolfo López Mateos room of the Official Residence of Los Pinos, the president listed the measures that will be implemented at the federal level, in addition to those that will be undertaken by the states:

FIRST: “The structure and budget allocated to the Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders and Journalists will be strengthened. At present, 538 people are being protected by this Mechanism. A total of 342 are human rights defenders and 167 are journalists.

He reiterated the commitment made last week to representatives of the Committee to Protect Journalists that, “This Mechanism will have the necessary resources to provide the protection required by journalists and human rights advocates”.

SECOND: “A National Coordination Scheme will be established with the states together with an Operational Protocol. Its objective will be to coordinate actions to address and reduce the risks faced by journalists and human rights advocates. It will be implemented by the Federal Mechanism, whose Board of Governors includes, as noted above, representatives of civil society, the National Commission of Human Rights, and the government.

THIRD: “We will strengthen the Special Prosecutor's Office for Crimes Against Freedom of Expression, through the following measures:

  • More personnel and better training for Public Prosecutors’ Office, police and experts.
  • Contact and dialogue mechanisms will be established with civil society and journalists, to promote trust and collaboration.
  • Review and ongoing promotion of investigations in process, guaranteeing the right to the truth, access to justice and the fight against impunity.
  • Transversal coordination between local and federal authorities to guarantee the immediate investigation of crimes with a human rights perspective.
  • Support for the states through the creation of Public Prosecutor’s Offices specializing in freedom of expression within their public prosecutors’ and investigators’ offices, which will be key to reducing impunity.
  • Creation of homologated protocols at the national level for the investigation and care of victims of crimes against freedom of expression.

“Let it be quite clear, the government is fully prepared to accompany the local authorities to ensure that cases are solved and justice is served," he said.

He said that these proposals, which seek to strengthen institutional capacities to provide an environment of security and dignity for journalistic work, “Take up initiatives and recommendations from the National Human Rights Commission and civil society organizations. I thank them all for their work and commitment to this cause”.

The president said that his government, “Has distinguished itself by its respect for freedom of expression”.

He reaffirmed his commitment to combating impunity, so that the death of journalists does not go unpunished and those responsible are found.

After noting that, "We cannot allow censorship or restrictions on the information work of the press, radio, television, or new digital platforms as a society, far less as a government," President Peña Nieto said, “Those who say that the truth is not killed by killing journalists are absolutely right”.

At the event, the president asked for a minute of silence, “For all the people, journalists and human rights defenders who, unfortunately, in the performance of their work, and in waging their struggle, have been killed in the line of duty and the task to which they have devoted themselves”.

At the end of the event, the president told media representatives: "To each of you, as colleagues of those who have been killed, I express my greatest solidarity. I express my deepest condolences to you, colleagues and fellow journalists and relatives of those who unfortunately lost their lives in these deplorable events”.

“Rest assured that these crimes will not go unpunished, and the work they did will be not in vain because the truth will always be known, nor will they have lost their lives in vain”.

Before this event, in keeping with the usual format for CONAGO sessions, a meeting was held, led by Secretary of the Interior, Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, at which several proposals were presented to compile the final document submitted by the Mayor of Mexico City, in his capacity as President of the National Governors’ Conference.

THE STATES AND THE FEDERATION ARE WORKING TOGETHER TO GUARANTEE CONDITIONS OF FREEDOM AND FULL SECURITY IN THE EXERCISE OF JOURNALISM: OSORIO CHONG

Interior Secretary Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong highlighted the willingness of the members of the National Governors’ Conference to attend this meeting to define urgent actions to protect journalists and human rights defenders, and to work in a coordinated way to respond to recent events, which, he said, “Does not require isolated efforts. Instead, it requires that federal and local authorities establish joint, comprehensive measures”.

He said that, “This is essential in order to meet the demands of justice rather than impunity that society demands, but above all, to build effective strategies and prevent these situations from recurring”.

He noted that despite the efforts of the Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, “It is important to expand and intensify actions at the local level in full coordination with the Federation, so that journalists can carry out their work without fear or restrictions in every state”.

He said that a common agenda will be established with a clear route and specific targets at the national level, and of course, with the priority a situation like this warrants, in which time is of the essence. That is the demand that we will have to attend in view of the events that have harmed journalists and outrage us all as Mexicans. That is the demand that we will have to meet in a framework of co-responsibility and joint efforts, “he concluded.

THE STATE OF LAW DOES NOT EXIST WITHOUT ORDER OR SOCIAL PEACE: MIGUEL ÁNGEL MANCERA ESPINOSA

The voice of journalists and human rights defenders in the exercise of their work, recalls the urgency of uniting in defense of our system of freedoms, since the rule of law does not exist without public order or social peace, said the Head of Government of Mexico City and President of CONAGO, Miguel Ángel Mancera Espinosa.

After condemning the recent murders of communicators and activists in various parts of the country, he said that these deplorable events, “Will not silence the voices or articles pinpointing where our greatest challenge lies, namely fighting crime”.

On behalf of the governors of the country, the mayor of Mexico City announced the agreements made by the state authorities:

  • Investigate, with measurable results, the killings of journalists, human rights defenders and those who collaborate with journalists.
  • Create or approve public prosecutor's offices or specialized areas within State Prosecutor’s offices for the investigation and prevention of crimes committed against journalists, human rights defenders and those who collaborate with journalists.
  • Draw up state maps of risk and aggression towards journalists based on the Federal Mechanism.
  • Fully comply with recommendation 24-2016 of the National Human Rights Commission, and
  • Work with a single, unified protocol, to establish Mechanisms of Protection, Prevention, and also of course Assistance for Crime Victims.

He said that the country’s governors, “Will also work to set up the Protection Mechanism approved with the corresponding Federal Mechanism in each and every one of our states”.

“Today we assume this commitment. Today we endorse this commitment between the local authorities under our care and the country’s authorities to meet to this important social demand for greater security and protection for all journalists throughout the country,” declared Mancera Espinosa.

THE FIGHT AGAINST IMPUNITY IS THE RIGHT WAY TO PREVENT NEW ATTACKS AND AGGRESSION AGAINST JOURNALISTS: RAÚL CERVANTES ANDRADE

”We are convinced that the fight against impunity is the right way to prevent new attacks and attacks on journalists," said Attorney General Raúl Cervantes Andrade, reaffirming his commitment to work hand in hand and in coordination with state prosecutors and prosecutors to reduce impunity.

He declared: ”We have to get to the bottom of this by identifying not just the perpetrators but those who masterminded these crimes”. “In every case, we must exhaust the lines of research related to the exercise of freedom of expression and never rule out this hypothesis until we have clear, objective and scientific evidence that will enable us to determine the true motive for the aggression,” he said.

”We also have to achieve an effective specialization in the investigation of this crime that will enable us to identify the journalistic work of the victim, analyze the context in which journalists work, analyze the risks that exist in the field and ensure that our Public Prosecutors and police investigators do not revictimize communicators when it comes to investigating the facts,” he added.

He said that the Constitution establishes a shared responsibility between the Federation and the state authorities to investigate and sanction this type of aggressions, adding that, “In our capacity as the Mexican State, we have the obligation to reinforce the actions to investigate in a coordinated way, in a collaboration scheme that will provide the results demanded by society”.