Freedom of expression, fundamental right for development: Jesus Peña Palacios

CONACULTA - Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes ,
04 May 2013, Mexico

The Mexico Office of the High Commissioner of the United Nations Office for Human Rights coordinated a ceremony commemorating the World Day of Freedom of the Press.

Participants included Víctor Ronquillo, Jesús Peña Palacios, Omar Rábago, Darío Fritz, Margarita Torres and Jaime Rochín del Rincón.
"In the last ten years more than 600 journalists have been killed worldwide, most of them were not in conflict countries. In Mexico, 83 journalists have been killed since 2000, many more have been threatened or suffered from intimidation and many have opted for censorship. These figures should alert us to keep striving for achieving freedom and impunity. We can hardly say that freedom of expression is a right that today is fully acknowledged or fulfilled ".

With these data Jesús Peña Palacios, deputy representative in Mexico of the Office of the High Commissioner of the United Nations for Human Rights, showed the difficult scenario of the exercise of freedom of expression in Mexico, in a ceremony commemorating the World Day of Freedom of the Press, held on May 3 at the Museo Soymaya.
Peña Palacios stated that the right to freedom of expression is to talk without risks, without fear of reprisal. "Freedom of expression is a fundamental right that cannot be exercised by itself but needs a favorable environment, where we can talk and express ourselves, but it is also a basic right for development. Without freedom of expression we are not going to be able to promote and protect other fundamental rights. "

In the event organized by the National Human Rights Commission, Freedom House, the Mexico Office of the High Commissioner of the United Nations for Human Rights and La Legua Theatre Company, experts in the field talked about attacks on journalists, the right to freedom of expression and to information, journalism ethics, and recommendations for the protection of rights.

The journalist Victor Ronquillo said that World Day of Freedom of the Press serves also to remember that in countries like Mexico journalists fight for the right to information that is so recurrently violated through attacks and disappearances.

“Assaulted and threatened journalists live with the menace of violence against their person or their families. It is terrible that big newspapers opt for self-censorship due to the lack of assurance that they can exercise their right to information and freedom of expression. We live in a time of emergency where many of us demand an end of high crime rates and better crime investigation. "

Omar Rabago fromt he Program of Freedom of Expression and Article 19 on Protection of Journalists said Mexico has been for years identified as a dangerous country for journalists, making it difficult to know who actually favors silence.

"The fact is that they have been increasing attacks on journalists. From 2000-2013 we have a record of 63 journalists who have been killed with a possible link to their work, 17 missing in a span of 10 years from 2003-2013, and 46 attacks against media with explosives, grenades and gunfire, that in seven years, from 2006 to date.”
The question is who needs silence?, Rabago said that it is those who do not want to disseminate information. "They can be the states or governments that through public resources may limit the free flow of information, or organized crime groups that we have documented.

"Who is affected? The whole society that deserves to have a free press. That is why it is import to celebrate the World Day of Freedom of the Press, and celebrate this work of journalists that plays an important role to keep the society informed, "he said.

The co-founder of Standing Journalists, Margarita Torres, started her presentation with a question that some journalists ask themselves:  why do journalism in an environment that is aggressive and wild? In her opinion, violence is not the only strategy against journalism, so are the working conditions, the industry crisis and the credibility of journalism in the country.