MEXICO CITY – The NGO Article 19, based in London, which defends freedom of expression and the right to information, accused the Mexican government on Friday of concealment and censorship in its reports on the earthquake of Sept. 19.
In an extensive analysis, Article 19 concluded that the state “customarily deploys a policy of concealment and censorship,” and that in the case of the magnitude-7.1 earthquake was neither proactive nor efficient.
The NGO called it unacceptable that Mexican authorities used the resources intended to communicate the strategies and actions of government entities to promote the image of senior officials and institutions.
The tremor of 10 days ago caused at least 358 deaths and widespread material damage in the center of the country, which will take years to recover, according to calculations by specialists.
Article 19 described as worrying that 32 years after the magnitude-8.1 earthquake that left about 20,000 dead in 1985, the authorities did not take preventive measures to avoid the repetition of the catastrophe.
“We demand a communication policy that guarantees the population access to information, in order to provide certainty about the protocols implemented in disaster areas and about the needs of collection centers and shelters,” the document said.
It also recommended that the authorities ensure the free exercise of journalism and documentation with respect to human rights; effectively communicate prevention, care and reconstruction measures, and to provide diligently confirmed data on missing and hospitalized people.
For Article 19, it is important to guarantee the right to information of the families of people trapped in landslides by means of clear, permanent and transparent mechanisms, and to establish clear procedures for providing information to relatives of deceased persons.
Finally, the NGO called for “avoiding the political use of the needs of the population and responsible management of national resources, public and private, allocated to address the emergency, as well as resources provided by international organizations.”