London, January 2022. The threat of legal action against journalist and writer Ricardo Ravelo Galó is part of a systematic effort by the authorities and powerful groups in Mexico to curtail freedom of expression and the exercise of critical and investigative journalism, PEN International said today.
On 27 December 2021, Enrique Alfaro, the Governor of the Mexican state of Jalisco, , announced during a press conference that he had filed lawsuits for moral damages against journalist Ricardo Ravelo Galó.
Alfaro announced the lawsuits after Ravelo Galó published two articles entitled ‘Jalisco: Aquí manda el crimen’ (‘Jalisco: Crime rules here’) and ’Jalisco: Narco y negocios, a la sombra del poder’ (‘Jalisco: Narco and business, in the shadow of power’) on 17 and 24 December 2021, respectively, on the SinEmbargo website, which are part of a wider journalistic investigation about organized crime in Jalisco. The articles allege that local authorities are protecting an organized crime group and even points to possible links between the Governor's close circle and organized crime. PEN International fears that the threat of legal action by Governor Enrique Alfaro is an attempt to silence journalists and censor information through access to justice mechanisms.
PEN stressed that public officials should guarantee the right to information and public debate, and not use either civil or criminal charges to intimidate investigative journalists.
"Threatening messages from public officials are yet another example of the daily violence experienced by journalists in Mexico. The federal authorities must break the cycle of impunity that has allowed Mexico to be one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be a journalist. The country holds the grim record for the highest number of murders of media workers. The way forward for the Mexican government is clear, it should provide effective protection measures and immediately seek to tackle corruption," said Romana Cacchioli, Executive Director of PEN International.
On 28 December 2021, two armed men attacked the broadcasting station Canal 44, in Guadalajara, Jalisco, killing two security guards as they attempted to gain access to the building. The media outlet, part of the University of Guadalajara, had interviewed Ricardo Ravelo Galó earlier that day.
Both the attack on Canal 44 and the public and intimidating warning by Governor Alfaro are a reflection of the risks faced by the press and investigative journalists in Mexico.
PEN International calls on the Governor of Jalisco to:
- Refrain from any instigating any any legal action against journalist Ricardo Ravelo Galó, and avoid any actions that violate journalistic rights in Mexico, and guarantee free expression and the right to information.
And on the Federal Government to:
- Continue to provide the necessary and effective protection to journalist Ricardo Ravelo Galó and his family through its Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists in order to guarantee his safety and professional work.
- Refrain from making any statements or sending messages that might revictimize journalists affected by violence.
- Stop all acts of discrimination and stigmatization by officials of media and journalists, which inhibit freedom of expression and information;
- Urgently establish and safeguard essential conditions for the free exercise of journalism in the country, in compliance with the international agreements on human rights and freedom of expression signed and ratified by Mexico.
For more information, please contact Alicia Quiñones, Americas Programme Coordinator, at PEN International, email: email@example.com