Mexican government says it failed to protect missing Sonoran journalist, many others

By Kendal Blust
Published: Wednesday, December 8, 2021 - 5:05pm

Audio icon Download mp3 (1.09 MB)

agreement signing
Gobierno de Sonora
José Alfredo Jiménez Hernandez, the father of missing journalist José Alfredo Jiménez Mota, signs a settlement on Dec. 8, 2021, with officials during an official apology ceremony for the government's failures in the journalist's disappearance.

Mexican officials Wednesday apologized to the family of a Sonoran journalist who went missing nearly 17 years ago. The government says it failed to protect the journalist and guarantee his fundamental human rights.

After signing a public acknowledgment of responsibility in the disappearance of José Alfredo Jiménez Mota, Human Rights Undersecretary Alejandro Encinas apologized to the journalist’s family on behalf of the Mexican state.

"I am here to offer a public apology because the Mexican state could not guarantee and protect the integrity of Alfredo, who in carrying out his profession as a journalist, contributed to the strength of journalist, freedom of expression and freedoms in Sonora and in the country," Encinas said in a public signing ceremony attended by local, state and federal officials, as well as reporters and Jiménez's father, mother and sister. "I offer a sincere apology to his family, to the families of other journalists and human rights defenders who unfortunately have lived through experiences similar to those of Alfredo Jiménez Mota."

Encinas said there is a scourge of violence against journalists in the country. In the past three years alone, 49 journalists have been murdered, according to government records, he said. Only 7% of those cases have been solved.

Encinas called the acknowledgment a starting point toward justice, and a commitment on the part of current leaders to continue searching for Jimenez and those responsible for his disappearance. It also promises reparation for the harm done to Jiménez's family.

Earlier in the day, Encinas and Sonoran Gov. Alfonso Durazo also signed a separate agreement committing to protect of human rights defenders and journalists in Sonora.

The apology and government commitments to improve protections for journalists are an important symbolic gesture, said Jan-Albert Hootsen, representative for the Committee to Protect Journalists in Mexico, but it's not enough.

"The real problem in José Alfredo Jiménez Mota case is that no one has been arrested. There has been absolutely no progress in investigating the disappearance, as has been the case in a great many other cases in Mexico," Hootsen said.

There has been an ongoing crisis of violence against journalists in Mexico for years now, and while there have been small advances in some cases under the current administration, the situation remains dire, he said.

"Mexico is by far the most violent and dangerous country for journalists, not only in the Western Hemisphere, but really in the entire world, according to our numbers," he said. "It is the country with the highest number of murders this year. It is the highest number of disappeared reporters … So really, all the major indicators in Mexico are currently on red."

Fronteras Sonora