[VIDEO] Dying for a Story: How Impunity & Violence against Mexican Journalists are Weakening the Country

Watch the video from yesterday’s event

Mexico has faced significant threats and violence from organized crime over the last decade. The human toll and tragedy of this violence is directly impacting journalists as well, leading to self-censorship, under-reporting of organized crime, and the corruption and state complicity that comes with it. Journalists have been killed, injured, and threatened as they seek to investigate and report on what is happening, and dozens of media outlets have been forced to close in the last few years. According to Article 19, eleven journalists were killed in 2016 and six so far in 2017 including Javier Valdéz, an internationally recognized journalist from Sinaloa’s RíoDoce, on May 15th.

In 2012, the United States supported the legislative framework that established Mexico’s National Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists. Through USAID, the United States has continued to support the Protection Mechanism and other programs to benefit journalists and defenders in Mexico. Nevertheless, the recent cases demonstrate that these mechanisms have not yet been effective. The Mexican government has expressed concern about the problem and promised justice, but investigations and prosecutions of those responsible have been very few. In the process, freedom of information, freedom of the press, the rule of law, and democratic governance have been weakened.

The Wilson Center and WOLA convened a discussion with experts and courageous Mexican journalists to hear about their work and the difficulties and risks they and their colleagues face. They were joined by Ana Cristina Ruelas, the Director of Article 19’s office for Mexico and Central America, Azam Ahmed, the New York Times’ Bureau Chief for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, and Jennifer Clement, the President of PEN International, who presented an overview of attacks and aggressions against journalists in Mexico and the Mexican government’s response to this concerning situation.

On the Eve of the 2nd Anniversary of the 43 Students’ Disappearance, the Mexican Government Still Holds on to Already Disproven “Historic Truth

09/22/16 The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)

wolaWashington, DC—Two years after 43 students were disappeared by police officers in collusion with a criminal group in Mexico, there have been no convictions, progress in the investigation has stalled, and compelling evidence points to an obstruction of justice in the case.

“This is one of the worst cases of human rights violations seen in Mexico’s recent history. Two years later, the Mexican government has done very little to help these wounds heal. It is shocking that, despite dedicating significant resources, the Mexican government has not found the students, and that its own officials have obstructed the investigation,” said Maureen Meyer, Senior Associate for Mexico at WOLA.

Organized Crime Loopholes Water Down Mexico Justice Reform

06/18/16 InSight Crime 

imagesMexico is currently in the process of implementing historic changes to its criminal justice system, but the planned reforms include due process exceptions in organized crime cases that could undermine the initiative’s intent.

The exceptions, outlined in a new report (pdf) from the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), provide for the use of a controversial measure known as “arraigo,” which means “hold” and is a form of pretrial that allows suspects in organized crime cases to be held without formal charges for up to 80 days.

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UPCOMING EVENT | Ayotzinapa Case: Final Report by Group of Independent Experts

Oaxaca por Ayotzinapa
http://www.montecruzfoto.org

WHEN: Wednesday, March 25, 2016, 9:00-11:00 AM

WHERE: 6th Floor Auditorium, Woodrow Wilson Center

Click to RSVP.

In September 2014, 43 students from the Rural Teachers’ College in Ayotzinapa were forcibly disappeared in Iguala, Guerrero in southern Mexico. In the aftermath of this event, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the Mexican government, and the representatives of the victims’ families created an Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI, by its initials in Spanish) to provide technical assistance and follow-up measures to the Mexican government in the investigation. The GIEI presented its final report on April 24, 2016.

Please join the Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute and the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) for a conversation with four of the experts of the GIEI to discuss the main findings of their investigation, what their work demonstrated about Mexico’s criminal justice system, and how the investigation into the disappearance of the 43 students can move forward after their departure from Mexico. The Experts will be joined by a legal representative of the students’ families.

Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts

Carlos Martín Beristain (Spain)

Angela Buitrago (Colombia)

Francisco Cox Vial (Chile)

Claudia Paz y Paz (Guatemala)

Commentators

Maureen Meyer
Senior Associate for Mexico and Migrant Rights
Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)

Santiago Aguirre
Deputy Director
Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Center

Moderator

Eric L. Olson
Associate Director, Latin American Program,
Senior Advisor, Mexico Institute, Wilson Center

Click to RSVP.

One Year after Enrique Peña Nieto’s Election: Has there been a significant shift in Mexico’s security strategy?

Washington Office on Latin America, 7/2/2013

In his electoral campaign and after being elected to office on July 2, 2012, Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto promised a new direction for Mexico. Seven months into his presidency, how much has Mexico changed its course? In this Q & A, WOLA’s Senior Associate for Mexico and Central America Maureen Meyer addresses key questions about security, drug-related violence, human rights, and security cooperation with the United States.

Since taking office in December 2012, Peña Nieto has emphasized that his priorities are to reduce crime and violence in Mexico, focusing particularly on murder, kidnappings, and extortion. Coupled with this, Peña Nieto promised to focus attention on the root causes of violence. This was clearly laid out in the February launch of the National Program for the Social Prevention of Violence and Crime (Programa Nacional para la Prevención Social de la Violencia y la Delincuencia).

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Mexico Institute Event: Reforming the Ranks: Assessing Police Reform Efforts in Mexico

Policia MexicoThe Washington Office on Latin America and the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute are pleased to invite you to a discussion on the current state of police reform in Mexico, issues that the Peña Nieto government must address to create strong and accountable federal security forces, and ways the United States might support these efforts.

Date: Tuesday, Feb. 12 // 9am to 10:30am // at the Woodrow Wilson Center

For more information and to RSVP visit the event page, Reforming the Ranks.

WOLA Report: Border Security and Migration in South Texas

border_at_Tijuana Tomas CastelazoBy Adam Isacson and Maureen Meyer, 1/24/2013

Since 2011, WOLA staff have carried out research in six different zones of the U.S.-Mexican border, meeting with U.S. law enforcement officials, human rights and humanitarian groups, and journalists, as well as with Mexican officials and representatives of civil society and migrant shelters in Mexico. As part of this ongoing work, the authors spent the week of November 26-30, 2012 in south Texas, looking at security and migration trends along this section of the U.S.-Mexico border. Specifically, we visited Laredo, McAllen, and Brownsville, Texas, and Matamoros, Mexico.

We found that unlike other sections of the border, the south Texas sections have seen an increase, not a decrease, in apprehensions, particularly of non-Mexican migrants; migrant deaths have dramatically increased; and there are fewer accusations of Border Patrol abuse of migrants. We also found that the Zetas criminal organization’s control over the area may be slipping and drug trafficking appears to have increased, yet these U.S. border towns are safer than they have been in decades. Lastly, in spite of the ongoing violence on the Mexican side of the border and the failure of the Mexican government to reform local and state police forces, U.S. authorities are increasingly repatriating Mexicans through this region, often making migrants easy prey for the criminal groups that operate in these border cities.

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