Saturday, November 7, 2009

Mexico: Calls for Immediate Investigation into Attacks as Ninth Journalist Murdered

ARTICLE 19 Calls for Immediate Investigation into Attacks as Ninth Journalist Murdered

ARTICLE 19 calls on the Mexican authorities to fully and immediately investigate the killing of journalist José Bladimir Antuna García, in the state capital of Durango in northern Mexico.

Garcia’s body was found on 2 November, some twelve hours after he had been abducted from the centre of Durango. He had two bullet wounds. According to a number of sources there was a sign left on the body which read, “This happened to me for giving information to the military and writing what I shouldn´t have. Check the texts of your articles well before publishing them. Yours faithfully, Bladimir."

Garcia was a reporter for a local newspaper called El Tiempo de Durango, where he worked as editor of the police section. He had apparently been subjected to threats for some time: his house had been attacked earlier this year and he had spoken openly of receiving a number of threats both to his cellular phone and at the newspaper offices. He had reported these threats to the State’s General Attorney’s Office but no measures seem to have been taken.

Garcia is the second journalist from this particular newspaper to have been killed this year and the third in Durango. In May, Eliseo Barron of the newspaper Milenio was abducted from his home in Durango and later found murdered. Earlier the same month, Carlos Ortega, of El Tiempo de Durango was shot dead in his car.

So far, nine journalists have been killed in Mexico this year, while eight remain missing and hundreds more have suffered threats or aggressions.

“The violence and deaths that have occurred in the north of the country in recent months, and particularly in the state of Durango, have resulted in a chilling effect on the fundamental right to freedom of expression, and more particularly press freedom,” comments Dario Ramirez, Director of ARTICLE 19 in Mexico. “Journalists living in fear for their safety are much more likely to censor themselves, being cautious about what they write and fearful of being critical.”

In an interview with ARTICLE 19, local journalist Antonio Meraz stated that: “The majority don’t want to get involved in topics related to the drug trafficking industry. For security reasons they have stopped writing about the situation.”

Mexico has an obligation under international law to protect freedom of expression. This means that the State has a duty to protect this fundamental human right, making sure that violations of free expression are swiftly and appropriately addressed through the courts.

According to a ruling by the Inter American Court of Human Rights, the Mexican State has an obligation to “prevent, investigate, and castigate” all violations of human rights that take place under its jurisdiction. Yet, out of the nine murders of journalists that ARTICLE 19 has recorded in 2009, a perpetrator has only been identified in one case so far.

ARTICLE19 calls on the Mexican authorities, and particularly the authorities of the State of Durango, to tackle the climate of impunity that is currently being allowed to prevail in cases of attacks against journalists. Only through the full realisation of the right to freedom of expression will the consolidation of democracy and a solution to the current violence and insecurity be possible.

• For more information please contact: Omar Rábago, ARTICLE 19 México and Central America Office,, +52 55 10 54 65 00 ext 102

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