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Who’s killing Mexico’s journalists?

In late July, a 31-year-old photojournalist was found murdered in an apartment in Mexico City. Rubén Espinosa had been tied up and tortured and finally shot twice in the head.

Also found murdered in the apartment were four women, including a human-rights activist.

Espinosa, pictured left, became the seventh journalist killed in Mexico this year.

He was the first outside journalist ever murdered in Mexico City, a traditional sanctuary for those running from danger in other parts of the country.

Espinoza had fled from the state of Veracruz. He was threatened there after taking an unflattering picture of Veracruz’s governor, Javier Duarte. The photo appeared on the cover of the national news magazine, Proceso.

Since Duarte took office in 2010, 14 journalists have been kllled or have disappeared in Veracruz. Most of the cases are unsolved.

Until this year, with seven journalists already killed, 2014 had been the bloodiest year for journalists in Mexico, with five deaths.

The country ranked 148 out of 180 on the latest World Press Freedom Index.

Reporters Without Borders compiles the annual index. It said about Mexico:

This was the western hemisphere’s deadliest country for journalists in 2014 (for murders directly linked to media work). Murders, kidnappings, physical attacks and threats go almost entirely unpunished, fuelling fear and self-censorship. Collusion between organized crime and certain politicians and local officials hampers good governance and justice at all levels. The federal mechanisms for protecting human rights defenders and journalists are not effective or rapid enough to meet the needs of endangered journalists. The media landscape suffers from a lack of pluralism in the TV sector and the vulnerability of community radio stations, which are often denied legal frequencies and are subject to persecution.

A total of 88 journalists have been murdered in Mexico since 2000.

“The latest victim prior to Espinosa was Edgar Hernández García, the editor of the magazine Foro Político, who was gunned down in the southern state of Oaxaca on July 9,” Reporters Without Borders said.

Partly in response to Espinoza’s murder and the street protests that followed, Mexico City enacted a new law on August 10 protecting human rights defenders and journalists, including those from other parts of Mexico fleeing violence or threats.

The new law “recognizes the promotion and defense of journalism and human rights as activities that are in the public interest,” Reporters Without Borders said.

It also guarantees the physical, psychological, moral, and economic integrity of journalists when they’re in danger, and extends the same protections to their families.

Emmanuel Colombié, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Americas desk, said: “We welcome this law’s promulgation and we pay tribute to the political will to reinforce the protection of journalists in the federal district.”

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.

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