The home of the Director of ARTICLE 19 Mexico and Central America was raided at the weekend. Intruders broke into the house where Dario Ramirez lives with his family and stole computers and paperwork containing information about the organisations work, together with other valuables. This is the fifth serious security incident staff at the Mexico branch of the international free expression organisation have suffered within a year, including a death threat against Ramirez.
The raid came just 48 hours before the free expression group released its annual report [sp] about harassment and violence against journalists and human rights defenders in the country. The report “Dissenting in Silence” notes that while the number of journalist killed in the country fell in 2013, cases of non-fatal violence against journalists increased by almost 60% and accounted for more than a quarter of all cases recorded by the organisation since 2007.
“The situation in Mexico is complex. Levels of violence are high and corruption remains a pressing problem. A climate of impunity prevails, where threats and violence persistently go unchecked. This dangerously threatens to undermine democracy in the country and stifle free speech” said Thomas Hughes, Executive Director of ARTICLE 19.
“Attacks against human rights defenders and journalists who exercise their right to freedom of expression are widespread and show no sign of abating. Steps taken by the Mexican government to tackle the problem have been shown to be ineffective. Action is needed to urgently address the deepening crisis” added Hughes.
ARTICLE 19 is concerned that the raid may be part of a wider attack on the organisation’s right to freedom of expression and could be intended to discourage publication of their most recent report. “Dissenting in Silence”, which was launched today, shines a light on cases where journalists have been attacked and killed for their work reporting on organised crime, corruption and human rights abuses in the country.
ARTICLE 19 has reported the incident to the Policía Judicial del Distrito Federal (PJDF) and has requested urgent support from the federal government’s mechanism for the protection of human rights defenders. We hope that the federal protection mechanism responds promptly and fully investigate the matter.
Over the past year staff at ARTICLE 19 Mexico and Central America have been followed and photographed on a number of occasions, including while at their homes; Ramírez has been the victim of a targeted armed assault in the street; a letter containing aggressive and violent threats was sent to the office; staff members were attacked in the street; and the server hosting the organisations Mexican website has also been under constant attack.
The international organisation’s Executive Director, Thomas Hughes travelled to Mexico in February as a result of increasing security concerns to meet with staff and urge greater support from the Mexican authorities and international delegations in the country.