Mexico #7 On CPJ Global Impunity Index…Murders of Journalists

Out today, the extract below is from the CPJ webpage summarising the Impunity Index. Mexico is in seventh place, making it the most dangerous place in Latin America to inform people about news.

Getting Away With Murder

CPJ’s 2014 Global Impunity Index spotlights countries where journalists are slain and the killers go free

By Elisabeth Witchel/CPJ Impunity Campaign Consultant

Published April 16, 2014

Syria has joined the list of countries where journalists’ murders are most likely to go unpunished, while Iraq, Somalia, and the Philippines once again were the worst offenders, the Committee to Protect Journalists has found in its newly updated Impunity Index. Convictions in four countries represented a glimmer of good news.

Syria’s entrance to the Index at number five highlights the rising number of targeted killings there, a recent threat to journalists operating in the country. With unprecedented numbers of abductions and high rates of fatalities in combat and crossfire, Syria was already the world’s most dangerous country for journalists.

Fresh violence and a failure to prosecute old cases kept Iraq, Somalia, and the Philippines in the three worst slots on the Index. Iraq, with 100 percent impunity in 100 cases, is at number one, a spot it has held since the survey’s inception in2008. Iraq’s journalists, targeted in record-breaking numbers since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, saw a respite in 2012, the first year no journalists were killed in relation to their work. However, a resurgence of militant groups across the country propelled a spike to 10 journalist killings last year—nine of them murders.

Consistent with the four previous years, Somalia ranks second worst worldwide. Four new murders in 2013 added to the already alarming numbers of journalists killed in retaliation for their work. Elusive armed insurgent groups have terrorized the media beyond the reach of Somalia’s fragile law and order institutions, but authorities have also failed to adequately investigate attacks by other sources, according to CPJ research.

For this year’s edition of the Impunity Index, which calculates the number of unsolved journalist murders as a percentage of a country’s population, CPJ examined journalist murders in every nation in the world for the years 2004 through 2013. Cases are considered unsolved when no convictions have been obtained. Only those nations with five or more unsolved cases are included on the index. This year, 13 countries met the Index criteria, compared with 12last year.

In a positive development, convictions took place in four countries on the Index—yet in only one case were those who ordered the crime apprehended or tried, reflecting a global pattern. The Philippines sentenced the broadcast journalist Gerardo Ortega’s shooter to life in prison. With the murders of 51 journalists still awaiting justice, this development has not changed the country’s Index ranking, which has remained firm at number three since 2010. Pakistan’s near-perfect record of impunity was shattered when courts convicted six suspects (though two of them are at large) for the 2011 murder of Wali Khan Babar. Russian courts sentenceda Russian businessman to seven years for inciting the 2000 murder of Igor Domnikov, and Brazil’s courts convicted perpetrators of three murders—including, in one case, the mastermind. In the rest of these crimes, the masterminds remain at large.

Journalists protest the one-year anniversary of the murder of journalist Regina Martínez Pérez. Anti-press attacks are so common that Mexican authorities passed a bill authorizing federal authorities to prosecute crimes against journalists. (AP/Felix Marquez)

Journalists protest the one-year anniversary of the murder of journalist Regina Martínez Pérez. Anti-press attacks are so common that Mexican authorities passed a bill authorizing federal authorities to prosecute crimes against journalists. (AP/Felix Marquez)

Lawmakers in Mexico, seventh on the list, approved legislation in April 2013 to support enactment of a constitutional amendment giving federal authorities jurisdiction to prosecute crimes against journalists. Though the law is viewed as an important step toward improving press freedom, no significant progress has been made yet in Mexico’s 16 unsolved cases.

Colombia’s ranking improved significantly, due to a drop in journalist killings in recent years, though no one has been convicted of killing a journalist since 2009. While Colombia has taken measures to provide security to journalists under threat, journalists have also been compelled in many cases to self-censor, or flee their homes.

While no apparent progress was made in any cases in Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, CPJ did not record any new murders in those countries from 2009 to 2013. Nigeria stayed on the Index for the second year in a row with five unsolved cases. Two new murders took place in India in 2013, bringing to seven the total number of unprosecuted murders.

Growing international concern over the absence of justice in media attacks prompted strong attention from the United Nations last year. UNESCO kicked off the implementation of the U.N. Plan of Action for the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, a framework adopted in 2012. In November, the U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution on safety of journalists. The resolution calls for states to act to pursue justice and recognizes November 2 as the International Day to End Impunity.

Among the other findings in CPJ’s Impunity Index:

  • 96 percent of victims are local reporters. The majority covered politics, corruption, and war in their home countries.
  • A climate of impunity engenders violence. In eight countries that appear repeatedly on the Index year after year, new murders took place in 2013.
  • Threats often precede killings. In at least four out of every 10 journalist murders, the victims reported receiving threats before they were killed.
  • Killers of journalists aim to send a chilling message to the entire news media. Almost a third of murdered journalists were either taken captive or tortured before their death.
  • 10 of the 13 countries on the Impunity Index have been listed each year since CPJ began the annual analysis in 2008, underscoring the challenges in reversing entrenched impunity.
  • Political groups, including armed factions, are the suspected perpetrators in more than 40 percent of murder cases. Government and military officials are considered the leading suspects in 26 percent of the cases. In fewer than five percent of cases are the masterminds ever apprehended and prosecuted.

For a detailed explanation of CPJ’s methodology, click here.

A Drug War Informer in No Man’s Land…NYTimes

This long piece in the NYTimes is worth a look. Keep in mind that the DEA is famous for not protecting informants but merely using them. During the time period that the former informant portrayed here was police chief in Zapopan, Guadalajara, it was well-known to be a town sheltering many high-level traffickers. I’m particularly interested in the phone call Mr Lopez receives from an aging and sick General Rebollo Gutierrez recently. I have probably missed it, but I have not seen anything in the press about him being released from prison and transferred to a military hospital with his rank restored.  In fact, I talked to a person recently who claims to have met and talked to the general in prison. Here is a long piece from 1995 about the arrest of El Guero Palma…

The figure of 60,000 dead seems to be the official number, despite the fact that the toll surpassed that easily more than one year ago and that people are still being killed in many places in Mexico… The weekend in Chihuahua state was especially violent, though spread out in rural areas.   molly

45 murder victims in Juarez in April

The Fiscalia and El Diario report this morning that a total of 45 people were murdered in Juarez in April. There is no breakdown by age or gender reported here.

At least two people were murdered on April 30, though I did not see these in El Diario. I got the information from the Fiscalia communiques that I receive via email. I will assume these are included in the total, but I am not certain of that. The Fiscal paints it in a positive light—even though the past two months have shown an increase, the numbers are still far below what they were in 2008-2012. Below are the cumulative figures for 2013 that I have. molly
January 30 1 Diario reported 25, but my count was 30  


February 29 5 Diario reported 25, 2 of them women; but there were 4 bodies found in narcofosas, 1 male and 3 female
March 45 2

at least 6 people victims of homicide since Saturday night in Juarez…2 injured are state police

At least 6 people have been murdered in Juarez since last night.  At about 10 pm last night, a group of armed men stormed into a children’s’ party on Salvador Dali street in the Parajes del Sol neighborhood. Three men at the party were killed and another was injured. As of this afternoon when the Fiscalia reported the incident, the men have not been identified. Early morning yesterday, 2 young men were shot to death in the village of El Papalote in the Valle de Juarez. The news account says the victims (aged 18 and 19) were dragged out of a house and shot. Yesterday afternoon at about 3:00 pm, two ministerial police were attacked at a gasoline station on the west side of the city. The police (a man and woman) were reported to be injured while a woman working at the gasoline station was murdered. El Diario also reports that the leader of a gang of extortionists known as “El Miguelito” who was wounded about 11 days ago has died in the hospital. molly

At least 11 people murdered in Juarez since Saturday night…

A lot of people have been killed in Juarez during Saturday and Sunday… Follows are the stories I’ve found more or less in reverse chronological order.  The first story in the list reports that an armed group executed 3 men in the Granjas de Chapultepec neighborhood. Two men were killed immediately in the drive-by shooting. Another man was injured and died later.  Witnessed report that it took 40 minutes for ambulances to arrive. This multiple homicide occurred at about 6 pm.

Earlier today, the body of a woman was found inside a house in the colonia Toribio Ortega. She had been raped and beaten to death.  I think the next incident took place late Saturday night, but the fiscalia reported it today. Two men died in a shooting at the Pool Bar Bachacas and 5 more people were injured.
Also on Saturday night, a doctor was murdered in a pharmacy, reportedly for not paying extortion fees. Also, a bus driver was shot and died later at a clinic.
And in another incident late Saturday night, a couple were murdered in their house in Rinconada de las Torres.  The house was also robbed. The killers apparently locked the couple’s children (aged 8 years and 3 months) in a separate room while they removed valuables from the house. Since the house was located in a gated neighborhood, the thieves forced the woman to accompany them on various trips to and from the house as they removed items so that they could pass the guards without being questioned. When they finished taking the belongings from the house, they returned and murdered both adults. In the morning, a neighbor heard the children crying and when he went to investigate he found the parents murdered.  Also, a man who worked as a watchman at a hotel in La Playa neighborhood was found dead this morning, his body hidden behind a stairwell.
I am not sure that I have found all of the reports in the press, but it looks like there have been at least 11 people killed between Saturday night and Sunday evening, so far.  molly

Uruapan, Michoacan…7 bodies displayed in public park…

Early Sunday I saw the notice in El Diario that 7 men had been found dead in Uruapan, Michoacan. Later that afternoon, the report was expanded and the photographs appeared–the seven men were displayed in the grassy area of a traffic circle, sitting in white plastic chairs, shot in the head and with posters displaying messages:
Cartulinas said, “Warning, this is going to happen to all muggers, pickpockets, thieves of cars, homes and pedestrians, kidnappers, rapists and extortionists.”
And variations on that theme… Several of the dead have been identified and they are small-time thieves and beggars.  Hmmm.  Meanwhile, Proceso reported that the Secretary of Government of the state of Michoacan told the media that they should not magnify the multiple execution in Uruapan without being sure to put it into context and explain that it was related to narcotrafficking. Otherwise, the incident would be used to say something bad might be happening in Uruapan.  Did anyone think to ask how such a work of “installation art” could be completed without the help (or at the least the non-interference) of authorities?
And perhaps I am mixing up too much here, but today there was a long AP article reporting on the involvement of the Honduran police in death squads involved with social cleansing…all paid for by the US.But this incident seems a clear case of social cleansing. Also, there have been many articles lately in both Mexican and US press noting the growth of  vigilante groups. Most of the articles present this as a positive development.  And this was not the only multiple homicide reported today in Mexico… More to follow… molly

National Registry database contains 26,121 cases of disappeared in Mexico

According to an official registry, there are 26,121 disappeared people in Mexico.

This is a more or less direct translation of this article.

This information comes from a search on the web site of the National System for Missing or Disappeared Persons on Monday February 25.

The information was migrated from the National Center of the Executive Secretariat of the National System for Public Security by the National Center for Planning, Analysis and Information for the Combat of Delinquency of the PGR (the Federal Attorney General) and the data in the system comes from what local attorneys general have reported.

The database contains basic information about the cases including: date of disappearance, state, municipality and locality of the disappearance, sex, identifying marks and/or tattoos of the disappeared person and the public ministry (local law enforement bureau) that registered the disappearance.

According to the web site, this information corresponds to that required by the Law of the National Registry of Missing or Disappeared Persons that came into effect on April 18, 2012 and which said that “all administrative or judicial authorities which have knowledge of a missing person or which receives any report about the disappearance of a person, must communicate this information immediately to the National Registry in the form established by the current Law.”

It is worth noting that as of the present date, this regulation has not been officially established and disseminated.
[Cabe destacar que, a la fecha, dicho reglamento aún no ha sido emitido.]

The data that is available on the website is somewhat consistent with the information published in the Washington Post on November 29, 2012 that cited 25,000 disappeared persons during the past presidential administration, as well as with the information released on December 20, 2012 by the NGO Alianza Civica which made public the database of 20,851 disappeared persons from 2006-2012 that was reported by Tracy Wilkinson of the Los Angeles Times.

The data presented in this National Registry makes no distinctions with respect to missing persons, disappeared persons or victims of forced disappearance.

Commentary on “How Mexico Got Back in the Game” T. Friedman

Yes, just what we have been waiting for! Economic Flat-Earth-Society guru Thomas Friedman says Mexico is ALL RIGHT! No mention of 125,000 murdered people and 27,000+ more missing in the past 6 years…  Why mention it when the outcome and outlooks (according to Friedman) are so rosy?  I would love to know what PR bill-of-goods Mr. Friedman is buying and who is selling it.  I hope there will be an investigative report soon on the Mexican government’s rebranding campaign and how it is being run.  I have no doubt that it is growing bigger and is getting more and more success every day as business reporters and columnists swallow the happy pills.  Thanks to Ed for sending this one…

Meanwhile, killings continue this weekend in Ciudad Juarez.  At least 2 more today since my early morning report…
WAIT WAIT THERE’S MORE!!! Tony Garza is a former US Ambassador to Mexico and now a big investor, profiting from free trade… Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  But, to be fair, there is something wrong with all this economic jingoism completely ignoring the human toll of more than 100,000 murdered Mexicans in the past 6 years…  And the increasing rate of poverty in the country. What kind of economic success leaves more than 50% of the country in poverty or EXTREME poverty? molly

Proceso report on government response to disappearances–Marcela Turati

Turati’s story explores here how families forced the government of Coahuila to respond to the crisis of the disappeared there: 1,835 people disappeared. Apparently, governors reported to Gobernación  how they are dealing with this. If the current government decides to act, it might follow similar methods listed here–not surprisingly, the state says half the people disappeared were criminals. As a side note, the database with 25,000 leaked to the Post has only 270 disappeared in that Coahuila. So, if the difference is so large, how can we be sure the 25,000 or 27,000 figure is even close to representing the real size of the problem?