The IPI global network commemorates the life and work of Regina Martínez, the fearless and acclaimed Mexican journalist who was slain 10 years ago, on April 28, 2012. The investigation into her murder left many questions unanswered and her supporters say those responsible for her killing have yet to be brought to justice. We call on Mexican authorities to immediately release details of the investigation and to take concrete action to end the rampant impunity for violence against journalists in Mexico.
Ten years ago today Martínez was found beaten to death in the bathroom of her apartment in Xalapa, the capital city in the state of Veracruz. She was an accomplished journalist, who reported about organized crime, corruption, and human rights. She reported for the investigative weekly Proceso from the year 2000 until the day she was murdered.
Soon after her death, a suspect named Jorge Antonio Hernández Silva was arrested for the crime. While he confessed, he later retracted the confession saying it was coerced. He was sentenced to 38 years in prison on attempted burglary and homicide, despite the fact that his fingerprints were not found at the crime scene and the apartment was intact, making the motive of burglary seem improbable.
Eight years after the murder, in November 2020, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador promised to reopen Martínez’s case for investigation. However, authorities have not been transparent about the status of the investigation, despite pleas from family and colleagues for more information.
In February 2021, the National Institute of Transparency, Access to Information and Protection of Personal Data (INAI), an autonomous constitutional body responsible for upholding the right to access to public information held by public authorities in Mexico, ordered Mexico’s attorney general to publish details of the investigation.
That office refused to release the information on grounds that the investigation is open.
Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists. At least 150 journalists have been killed in Mexico in the last 25 years, according to IPI’s monitoring data. Eight journalists have been killed so far in in Mexico in 2022, more than were killed in all of 2021, when the country had the highest of number of murdered journalists worldwide. Few of these cases have ever been resolved. In February 2022, IPI published a full-page print ad in The Washington Post calling on Mexico to end impunity for the many horrific killings of journalists in the country.
“Regina Martínez was a fearless journalist who worked to expose corruption and human rights abuses. Her brutal murder is an egregious example of impunity for violence against journalists. Mexican authorities have failed to meet their obligation to investigate the killing of journalists swiftly, thoroughly, and transparently”, IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen said. “It is alarming that 10 years since Martinez’s horrific murder, little has been done to secure the safety of journalists working in Mexico.”
President Obrador has faced mounting domestic and international criticism for the lack of protection for journalists in the country. In January 2022, thousands of journalists protested, demanding justice for their colleagues and calling on President Obrador to take actions to end the violence towards reporters. In response, he promised “zero impunity” over the killings of journalists in Mexico.
However in March 2022, Obrador angrily rejected a resolution passed by the European Parliament condemning the recent spate of violence against the press in Mexico and criticizing Obrador’s use of rhetoric “to denigrate and intimidate independent journalists, media owners and activists”.
Obrador called the MEPs “sheep” of “reactionary” conservative “coup-mongers,” according to reports, and later played down the situation by saying that out of the 5,000 persons killed in Mexico this year, at the time, only five were journalists.