Social media users killed for reporting on crime in Mexico

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

His Excellency Francisco Javier Barrio Terrazas, Ambassador to Canada
Embassy of the United Mexican States
45 O’Connor Street, Suites 1000 and 1030
Ottawa, ON K1P 1A4

Dear Ambassador,

I am writing on behalf of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), a non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to promote and protect press freedom and freedom of expression around the world.

CJFE strongly condemns the recent murders in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico and is gravely concerned for the safety of citizen journalists. Two unnamed bloggers were found mutilated and hanging under a pedestrian bridge on September 13, while Primera Hora’s Maria Elizabeth Macías Castro was found decapitated on September 24. Hand-written signs left by each of the bodies warned others who use social media networks not to speak out about crime.

These murders represent a further erosion of freedom of expression and media freedom in Mexico. The country’s current media environment offers little protection for journalists or citizens who speak openly about drug-related crimes and corruption. Citizens have turned to using anonymity and social media as a means to address the issues of crime that the local press has stopped reporting. Without a serious investigation of these murders and related crimes, the attitude of impunity towards such violations will continue to encourage self-censorship by journalists, as well as citizens who use social media networks.

As mentioned in my letter of July 5, 2011, CJFE urges the Mexican authorities to adhere to the conditions for protecting journalists outlined by the federal Mechanism for the Protection of Journalists and its subsequent advisory committee. We further call on the Mexican government to thoroughly investigate these crimes and bring those responsible to justice.

We thank you for your attention and I look forward to your reply.

Yours Sincerely,

Arnold Amber, CJFE President

Cc: Mr.Guillermo E. Rishchynski, Ambassador of Canada to the United Mexican States;
The Honourable John Baird, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs