Another Journalist murdered in Mexico

Poster: Truth is not killed by killing journalists
Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries for media professionals.(Source: IMAGO / NurPhoto)

The Mexican journalist, Fredid Román was killed on Monday. According to media reports, Román was shot in his car by unidentified attackers from a motorcycle. The attack occurred in Chilpancingo, the capital of the southern Mexican state of Guerrero.

Among other things, Román reported about politics in the state of Guerrero in an online news program.

Shortly before his murder, the journalist allegedly commented on Facebook about the case from 2014 of 43 missing students in Guerrero. Under the headline of “state crimes without charges against the boss”, he also reported about an alleged meeting of four government officials at the time of the disappearance. One of the attending officials is said to be the then attorney general, Jesús Murillo Karam. Last week he was arrested for his suspected involvement in the case. Arrest warrants were also issued for 20 army officers, 5 local officials, 33 local police officers, 11 Guerrero state police officers and 14 members of the Guerreros Unidos drug game. They are said to also have been involved in the case.

The students were abducted eight years ago on their way to a protest. According to official reports, corrupt police officers transported and delivered them to the Guerreros Unidos drug gang. The background of the crime is still not entirely clear. To date, only the remains of three of the missing people have been found and identified – only last week did the Mexican government officially declare the 43 young men as dead (German article).

“Deadliest year”

According to media reports, it is still unclear whether Román was murdered because of his work. As reported by the organisation, Reporters Without Borders (RSF), he is the 15th journalist to be killed in Mexico this year. At least nine of these have been murdered because of their work.

The body of journalist, Juan Arjón López, was only found last week in the northern state of Sonora. The journalist reported on Facebook about local politics, crime and the environment. A suspect has now reportedly been arrested in the case.

Jan-Albert Hootsen, Mexico representative for the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), proclaimed that 2022 has been the deadliest year in history for the Mexican press. “Never were so many journalists murdered in a single year in Mexico.” The CPJ demands that officials investigate the murder of Juan Arjón López and Fredid Román.

Mexico is considered one of the most dangerous and deadliest countries in the world (German article) for journalists. In the past year, seven media representatives were killed there – more than in any other country.

In the press freedom rank list made by Reporters Without Borders, Mexico ranks 127 out of 180 countries. The organisation reports that the entanglement of politics and organised crime makes it life-threatening to report on subjects like corruption or drug and human trafficking. Press representatives have been “systematically threatened, abducted or murdered”. The situation of press freedom in Mexico is one of the most tense in Latin America.

HRW criticises impunity

Even the human rights organisation, Human Rights Watch (HRW), stated in May that the ongoing violence against media professionals threatens freedom of press in Mexico (German article). Furthermore, the organisation complained that impunity is the norm for most crimes in the country – even for murdering journalists. In most cases, investigations remain in the early stages and do not result in charges being pressed. President López Obrador has not only failed to take action against the violence, but rather has intimidated media representatives himself.

HRW calls for the Mexican government to stop harassing journalists and to provide better protection. Crimes against media professionals need to be prosecuted and solved.

Already in March, the European Parliament condemned in a resolution the “threatening, harassment and killing of journalists and human rights defenders in Mexico”. Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of assembly were “key mechanisms in the functioning of a healthy democracy”. The members of Parliament called on the Mexican government to take all the necessary steps to ensure protection and provide a safe environment for journalists and human rights defenders. (js)