Mexico: journalists targeted in wave of torture killings

The body of Mexican journalist Marco Antonio Avila, kidnapped three days earlier in Ciudad Obregón, Sonora state, was found May 19 along a beachside highway near Guaymas, in a plastic bag, with signs of torture and a threatening “narco-message.” He had written for the Ciudad Obregón newspapers Diario Sonora de la Tarde and El Regional de Sonora. It was but the most recent in a wave of attacks on the press in Mexico. One week earlier, the office of El Mañana in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, was sprayed with bullets. Days before that, three freelance crime-beat photographers were assassinated in Veracruz. In late April, Regina Martínez, a reporter for the national weekly Proceso, was found dead with signs of torture in her home in Xalapa, also in Veracruz state. (El Dia, Argentina, May 19; BBC News, April 29)

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on May 16 urged an end to the threats and killings of journalists and human rights advocates in Mexico. The UN and IACHR called on the Mexican government to officially enact the Law for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, which mandates protective measures for those found to be at risk. The bill has been passed by both chambers of congress, but not officially signed into law by President Felipe Calderón. (Jurist, May 16; UN OHCHR, May 14; Milenio, May 2)

See our last post on Mexico and attacks on the press.

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  1. Another reporter killed in Veracruz
    Assailants kidnapped and killed a reporter who covered crime news in Veracruz state, officials said June 13. The reporter, Víctor Báez, who worked for the Mexican daily Milenio, was abducted while leaving his office in Xalapa lthe previous day. Police found his body in the city center. Several journalists have left Veracruz state in recent months, fearing for their lives, but Báez insisted on staying to continue his work. He is at least the sixth journalist to have been killed in Mexico in the past two months. (Reuters, June 14)