Cacho honoured in fight for justice

Vienna - Mexican journalist and human rights defender Lydia Cacho Ribeiro was yesterday declared an IPI World Press Freedom Hero, in recognition of her years-long contribution to highlighting the importance of press freedom and investigative journalism in defence of justice and human rights.

Vienna - Mexican journalist and human rights defender Lydia Cacho Ribeiro was yesterday declared an IPI World Press Freedom Hero, in recognition of her years-long contribution to highlighting the importance of press freedom and investigative journalism in defence of justice and human rights.

Lydia Cacho has become famous for among others, her reports on child prostitution and political corruption. She drew attention to abuses suffered by women and children and the impunity often enjoyed by those responsible for the abuse. As a result, Cacho herself has had numerous attacks and received death threats.

"Through her work Cacho has shown the importance of fair and accurate journalism in empowering people to demand their rights," said IPI Deputy Director Alison Bethel.

Lydia Cacho began her career as a journalist in the mid-1980s.

In December 2005, after Kamel Nacif Borge, a businessman from the far-off state of Puebla who is mentioned in her book, sued Cacho for criminal defamation, the journalist was picked up by Puebla's police. Cacho reported that police officers shoved her into a van outside the CIAM, a crisis centre and shelter for victims of sex crimes, gender-based violence and trafficking, which she runs. The police officers reportedly drove her 950 miles across Mexico, jamming gun barrels into her face and threatening that she would be drowned, raped or murdered. Police later denied such allegations.

Two months later, tapes were delivered anonymously to Mexico City's journalists, including a recording of a conversation between a businessman, identified as Nacif, and a Mexican governor discussing a plan to have her arrested and raped while in jail.

Cacho once recalled when she was tortured and imprisoned for publishing a corruption exposé: "I was confronted with the dilemma: 'Should I keep going? Should I continue to practice journalism in a country controlled by only 300 powerful men, corrupted and rich? Was there any point in demanding justice or freedom in a country where nine out of 10 crimes are never investigated? Was it worth risking my life and my freedom?' Of course the answer was 'Yes!'"

About being named an IPI World Press Freedom hero, Cacho said: "Journalism is a torch or lantern that illuminates reality."

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