Disturbing break-in at the home of ARTICLE 19 Regional Director

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

His Excellency Francisco Suárez Dávila
Ambassador of Mexico to Canada
Embassy of Mexico in Canada
45 O'Connor St., Suite 1000
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 1A4

Dear Ambassador,

I am writing on behalf of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), a non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to promote and protect press freedom and freedom of expression around the world.

CJFE is deeply disturbed by the recent break-in at the home of Darío Ramírez, ARTICLE 19 Mexico and Central America’s Regional Director. Ramírez and his family returned home following a vacation on March 16, 2014, to find that their front door had been forced open and that a computer and a number of work documents had been stolen. The timing of the incident is troubling as ARTICLE 19 was due to release a report on the climate for press freedom in Mexico only two days later, on March 18. The presentation of the report “Dissent in Silence: Violence against the press and the criminalization of protest, Mexico 2013” has gone ahead as planned.

The break-in is particularly disturbing as it is the second attack on a representative of a press freedom organization in Mexico in a week. It is also the fifth security issue reported by an ARTICLE 19 employee in the past year. Ramírez was the subject of death threats in 2013. Although no explicit link has yet been discovered between Ramírez’s work as a human rights defender and the break-in, the situation is extremely worrisome. This is particularly concerning as Ramírez has reported a severely lackluster response to his case through the Mexican government’s Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders and Journalists.

This incident comes amidst reports of press freedom declining even further in Mexico. The Committee to Protect Journalists has reported that a climate of impunity persists throughout the country, and it has now become habitual practice for journalists to practice self-censorship in the face of threats and violence.

CJFE calls on the Mexican government to thoroughly investigate the break-in at the home of Darío Ramírez. We also ask you to ensure that existing mechanisms to protect press freedom are given adequate political clout, including the aforementioned Protection Mechanism and the law giving federal authorities greater power to prosecute crimes pertaining to free expression.

We thank you for your attention and I look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Arnold Amber, CJFE President

Cc: The Honourable John Baird, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs
Ms. Sarah Hradecky, Ambassador of Canada to the United Mexican States