Three journalists killed on World Press Freedom Day

As Mexico joined the rest of the world in commemorating World Press Freedom Day, another three journalists were killed in the state of Veracruz on May 3. The deaths came just one week after the assassination of Regina Martinez Perez in the same state.  Freedom House mourns the deaths and urges authorities to expedite the inquiry process so that the cases can be investigated and prosecuted at the federal level. The bodies of journalists Guillermo Luna, Gabriel Huge, Esteban Rodríguez, as well as the body of Luna’s girlfriend, Irasema Becerra, were found wrapped in plastic bags in a canal in Boca del Rio.

Luna and Huge were murdered while working for Veracruz News, which they joined after spending many years covering the police section in the newspaper Notiver. Their departure from Notiver took place after two journalists from the paper, Miguel Angel Lopez and Ismael Lopez, were killed in June 2011. Rodriguez worked as a cameraman for TV Azteca and was working for Diario AZ before his death. The three journalists had just returned to Veracruz after fleeing the state in 2011 over concerns about their safety.

“Sadly, these deaths come at a time when new protection legislation has been enacted,” said Viviana Giacaman, Freedom House's regional director for Latin America. “These cases will test the efficacy of the new laws. We expect a prompt and just resolution to these crimes.”

Criminal gangs have increased their threats and attacks against journalists in the past few months. Early this week, 5 bodies that showed signs of torture were found in the state of Michoacán, and a message was left with the bodies of the victims:  “We are the Zetas and we will kill all of those who do not cooperate, and you journalists, tone it down.”

Mexico is ranked Partly Free in the Freedom in the World 2012, Freedom House's survey of political rights and civil liberties, and Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2011.

Learn More:

Freedom in the World 2011: Mexico
Freedom of the Press 2011: Mexico
Journalists Need Better Protection in Mexico
Freedom House Applauds Adoption of New Law