Thursday, September 23, 2010

Protecting the Journalists

Calderón has announced a new plan to protect journalists. It has a provision that threatened journalists receive government protection, though one wonders if the government truly has the resources to protect the scores if not hundreds of journalists whose work leads to threats. In any event, good for him, I guess, though one wonders why he decided to make it an issue now, since Mexico has been among the most dangerous places in the world for reporters for at least a decade now.

Moreover, while Calderón doesn't deserve criticism over the new plan, it's also true that the tools are already in place to protect journalists. Mexico has had a special prosecutor for crimes against reporters since the Fox years, but the office's performance couldn't be charitably describe as anything beyond ineffectual. And, of course, murder remains a crime, and if Calderón wanted to make the investigation of murders of journalists a higher priority for the PGR, he could certainly make that happen. If 90 percent of murders against journalists resulted in a conviction, we'd soon see fewer killings, and subsequently less self-censorship. What's missing is a genuine recognition from the government that journalists being killed is a substantial problem for the nation at large. I'm skeptical that Calderón's plan can will that element into existence.

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