The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, today condemned the murder of Mexican newspaper editor María Elizabeth Macías and urged strong measures to halt violence against reporters in the country.
“I condemn the gruesome murder of María Elizabeth Macías,” the Director-General said. “María Elizabeth Macías is one of all too many brave Mexican journalists, including several women, murdered because they maintained their integrity as journalists and wrote about the activities of organized crime. It is essential for democracy and for the restoration of rule of law, that journalists and editors be able to exercise their profession without fearing for their lives.
“This is why,” Irina Bokova added, “I urge the authorities to take all possible measures to improve the safety of journalists and bring those guilty of attacks against media workers to justice. Impunity is posing a direct threat to freedom of expression and press freedom in Mexico.”
The beheaded body of the 39-year old editor of the Primera Hora newspaper of Nuevo Laredo, in the state of Tamaulipas, was found on 24 September. A message linking the murder to María Elizabeth Macías’ reporting was found with the body.
María Elizabeth Macías used online social networks to report about organized crime activities in her region. She is the fourth woman journalist murdered in Mexico this year.
According to Reporters without Borders, a total of 80 journalists have been killed in Mexico since 2000. Many of the victims were killed because of their work on organized crime and drug cartels.
UNESCO is the United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. Article 1 of its Constitution requires the Organization to “further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations.” To realize this the Organization is requested to “collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image…”