Seminar in Mexico to discuss prevention and prosecution of crimes against journalists in Latin America

© Rashide Frias

UNESCO and the Government of Mexico will host an international seminar, Strengthening regional cooperation to end impunity for crimes and attacks against journalists in Latin America, in Mexico City (Mexico) on 7 November to mark this year’s International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists (IDEI).

The seminar will seek to advance dialogues and identify strategies to strengthen regional cooperation on safety of journalists and ending impunity in Latin America, a problem afflicting the region for the past years. According to the latest UNESCO Report, Intensified Attacks, New Defences,Latin America holds the second worst record of killings of journalists, with 127 killings in the past 5 years. Mexico tops the list of countries with the highest number of killings of journalists, many of which are targeted for reporting on drug trade and corruption.

The international seminar for IDEI in Mexico City will consist of four debates (see programme), which will promote the exchange of knowledge and dialogues between the judiciary, protection mechanisms, National Human Rights Commissions, civil society and media in Mexico alongside other regional actors including the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and the Inter-American Court on Human Rights.

A session on fighting impunity in Mexico will also provide a space for government authorities, journalists and Mexico-based organizations monitoring attacks against journalists, to take stock on the bottlenecks that prevent prosecution. According to the latest records of Mexico’s National Commission for Human Rights, 90% of crimes against journalists committed since 2000 remain unpunished. The panel will also provide an opportunity to discuss the latest recommendations from an OHCHR reportto strengthen Mexico’s national protection mechanism for human rights defenders and journalists, established in 2012.

The participation of renowned Mexican journalists is expected in this discussion, which will bring together representatives of government institutions in charge of monitoring, investigating and prosecuting attacks against the press.

It is the first time that Mexico is host of the regional seminars organized by UNESCO in commemoration of the international day. It continues the series of region seminars that marked IDEI San Jose, Costa Rica, in 2014, Europe (Strasbourg, France) in 2015, Africa (Arusha, Tanzania) in 2016, Asia (Colombo, Sri Lanka) in 2017 and the Middle East (Beirut, Lebanon) in 2018.

The one-day seminar in Mexico City will also explore the interest to establish a regional multi-stakeholder forum on the importance to protect journalists and fight impunity. The forum could meet on regular basis, and serve to identify ways to strengthen the capacities of judicial members, law enforcement officers and human rights defenders and to raise awareness.

The event will also mark the opening of the Latin American Congress of Investigative Journalism (COLPIN). The prestigious conference is supported by UNESCO and will take place from November 7 to 10 in Mexico City.

Within the framework of IDEI, a coalition composed of 17 international organizations dedicated to the defense and promotion of freedom of expression and information (ISCO SOJ Coalition) will be in Mexico from November 2 to 8 to address the situation of impunity for crimes Against journalists

The international seminar is supported by UNESCO’s Multi-Donor Programme on Freedom of Expression and the Safety of Journalists.

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