MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Last year was the most violent on record for journalists in Mexico, the free-speech group Article 19 said on Tuesday, citing security forces and other state agents as the main offenders.
In 2022, Article 19 recorded 696 crimes against media workers, ranging from intimidation and harassment to kidnapping and murder, the organization said in its annual report.
A total of 12 journalists were killed last year, according to Article 19, which takes its name from the portion of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights that establishes the right to freedom of expression.
“In Mexico, journalists are killed, but they are also intimidated and silenced systematically and recurrently through harassment, stigmatization, threats and the illegitimate use of public power,” the report said.
Over 40% of the reported abuses were perpetrated by state actors with just over 50% of those cases involving victims who covered corruption and politics, it added.
“2022 was the year with the most attacks against the press since we started keeping records (in 2008),” Article 19’s Mexico and Central America director Leopoldo Maldonado told Reuters.
The tally includes 33 “stigmatizing statements” made by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in his daily news conference, Maldonado said, part of a total of 176 similar comments made during that news conference against the media, journalists and civil society organizations that Article 19 recorded.
Lopez Obrador has harshly criticized Article 19 and has denied on several occasions that his government attacks the press, spies on it or limits freedom of expression.
Article 19 compared the level of attacks on journalists in the fourth year of previous Mexican presidents. It found that attacks in 2022, Lopez Obrador’s fourth year of rule, were 4.3 times higher than in 2010 during President Felipe Calderon’s fourth year and 1.6 times higher than in 2016, when President Enrique Pena Nieto was in charge.
(Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)