Deeply troubled by killing of Mexican photojournalist Rubén Espinosa

Friday, August 7, 2015
Photojournalists mourn as they place their cameras over the grave of murdered photojournalist Ruben Espinosa during his funeral service in Mexico City, Monday, Aug. 3, 2015. PHOTO: AP/Marco Ugarte
CJFE is deeply troubled by the murder of Mexican photojournalist Rubén Espinosa on July 31. Espinosa is the fourth journalist murdered in Mexico so far this year; he had fled Veracruz state for Mexico City only months earlier after receiving death threats stemming from his reporting on local activist movements in the region. He was found dead in a Mexico City apartment alongside four women, one of whom was an activist who had also fled Veracruz for security reasons; their bodies showed signs that they were tortured and sexually assaulted before their deaths. While Espinosa fled Veracruz in June 2015, the freelance photographer had been receiving death threats since 2012. Most recently he had been reporting on the September 2014 disappearance of 43 student activists; he worked primarily for the local news agency AVC Noticias, the national newsweekly Proceso and photo agency Cuartoscuro. Veracruz has been an extremely dangerous region for journalists in recent years. According to ARTICLE 19, 17 journalists have been killed in Veracruz since 2000; the majority of journalist killings in Mexico take place with near total impunity for the perpetrators. Espinosa’s murder marks the first time a journalist has been murdered after escaping to the comparative safety of Mexico City, a disturbing development which clearly indicates that the threats facing journalists in Veracruz are not confined to state borders. Further, this horrific attack is clearly designed to send a message to other journalists that there is no safe haven for them in Mexico. Despite the frequency of attacks against journalists in his state, Veracruz Governor Javier Duarte has repeatedly dismissed any link between journalists’ murders and their profession, instead accusing reporters of collaborating with local drug cartels and crime syndicates. CJFE strongly urges both federal and local authorities in Mexico to fully investigate Espinosa’s murder, identify all perpetrators and bring them to justice. Moreover, the Mexican government must take substantive action to bolster existing protection mechanisms for journalists and human rights defenders in the country, which have so far failed to protect these individuals from being killed with impunity.
This letter of concern was sent to H.E. Francisco Suárez Davila, Ambassador of Mexico to Canada. Cc: Mr. Pierre Alaire, Canadian Ambassador to Mexico; The Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P., Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs

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