Violence against journalists in Mexico exaggerated, says top prosecutor

Violence against journalists in Mexico is not as high as non-profit groups are reporting, said a top Mexican prosecutor yesterday.

Mexican media are reporting this morning that Octavio Orellano, head of the part of the Attorney General’s office dedicated to investigating crimes against journalists, said during the presentation of his annual report that there were only two confirmed deaths of people targeted specifically for being members of the media this year.

His report says that although 25 deaths and six disappearances have been reported since 2007, only three of those who were killed or vanished were targeted as journalists. That figure disagrees with numbers from non-profits, which report that three journalists were killed in November alone this year: Miguel Angel Villagomez Valle, editor of the newspaper La Noticia, was killed in Lazaro Cardenas, Michoacan state. Also killed were David Garcia Monroy, columnist for El Diario, in Chihuahua, and reporter Jose Armando Rodriguez Carreon, also of El Diario, in Ciudad Juarez.

Since 2000, 28 journalists have been killed in Mexico and eight have disappeared, according to Article 19 and Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission says the figure is actually higher, reporting that 45 journalists have been killed in the same  period. According to Reporters Without Borders, Mexico is the deadliest country in the Americas for journalists and reporters who cover organized crime are especially at risk.

“There is the mistaken perception that Mexico is the country in which the most journalists are murdered, but that’s not true,” said Orellano.

The News reports that according to Orellano, “some victims had been falsely identified as journalists, or died in accidents, and a few had even colluded with organized criminals”. Orellano refused to give more details while investigations continue.

The development promises to infuriate non-profits in Mexico, who only last week announced the launch of a media campaign to raise awareness about the issue of violence against journalists in Mexico – see TV spot below.

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