MEXICO CITY - This year will be the deadliest on record for journalists in Mexico, with 18 killed so far, human rights organization Article 19 said in a report Thursday.
Of the 18 deaths, Article 19 had identified a potential link to their work in nine cases so far, the organization's regional director Leopoldo Maldonado told Reuters.
"2022 could be the worst year in a century for the press," Maldonado said.
In a little over eight months, the death toll for 2022 has already outpaced the 13 murders recorded last year and the 14 recorded in 2020. Article 19 found the deaths were linked to the victims' profession in about half of the cases in 2021 and 2020, it said.
Meanwhile, the organization has documented a total of 331 attacks against journalists in the first half of the year, most of which involve intimidation and harassment. Some also received threats, while a handful of cases involved the alleged abuse use of public power.
That marks a 51.83% increase compared to the first half of 2018, when former President Enrique Pena Nieto was in power, it said.
In addition, Article 19 said four journalists had been forcibly displaced within the country while two went into exile in the first half of the year.
"The role that the authorities have in the violence against the press clearly reflects a breach of the state's obligations to guarantee the rights and integrity of journalists and the media," the report added.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has said repeatedly that his government does not attack the press and that recent murders were by criminal groups.
Article 19 alleged the state was behind most attacks on the press, with 128 cases recorded in the first half. This is "a trend that has been consistent since 2007," the group said.