The United Nations has announced a new journalism award - The Breach/Valdez Award for Journalism and Human Rights - to "recognize the career of journalists in Mexico who have excelled in a journalistic investigation for human rights," says the international organization.
The accolade is named after two Mexican journalists assassinated in 2017 - Javier Valdez and Miroslava Breach - both gunned down by criminal organizations for investigating the connections between illegal cartels and high-ranking Mexican politicians.
Breach was shot eight times and killed at a busy intersection in Chihuahua City last March likely for exposing the connection between a Chihuahua state mayoral candidate and the Sinaloa Cartel. In Nov. 2016 she also reported that the Governor of Chihuahua, Cesar Duarte Jaquez, had led a six-year embezzlement scheme stealing over $US49 million in public funds. Jaquez was recently acquitted. Neither Valdez’s or Breach’s killers have been convicted.
"With this award, we’d also like to contribute to combatting systemic impunity and violence that journalists face and more broadly human rights activists," said Giancarlo Summa, U.N. Director of the Center for Information at a press conference to announce the award.
The Breach/Valdez Award is sponsored by the Center of Information of the United Nations (CINU), the Office in Mexico of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (ONU-DH), the Ibero-American University, the Press and Democracy Program (PRENDE), Agence France-Presse (AFP) and the French Embassy in Mexico.
A U.N. statement reads that the killings of Breach and Valdez indicate that, "no journalist, not even though with international recognition, is safe from violence in particular when they attack corruption in this country."
The sponsoring organizations hope to recognize the Mexican reporters "who have excelled in journalistic investigation for human rights (and) support ... the work of all journalists who risk their lives in Mexico on a daily basis."
Griselda Triana, widow of Valdez and a longtime journalist herself told reporters at the award's announcement, "I want to tell journalists - men and women … even if you haven’t realized it you’ve become human rights defenders."
This is the second annual award named after Miroslava Breach. The Miroslava Breach Prize was announced last October and recognizes academic and journalistic works focusing on "Systems of power and violence against journalists in Latin America."