The IPI global network urges Mexican authorities to thoroughly investigate the February 13 death of journalist and activist Abisaí Pérez Romero, including the possibility that he may have been killed.
On February 13, journalist and environmental activist Abisaí Pérez Romero was found dead in the city of Tula, in the Mexican state of Hidalgo, a day after he was reported missing. The forensic report stated that the cause of his death was a fall, and that the body did not show traces of violence.
However, press freedom groups working locally in Mexico, including Article 19 and Reporters without Borders, have questioned the theory of an accident. Abisaí Perez was reportedly last seen in Tula while investigating the environmental impacts of the Tunnel Emisor Oriente (TEO), which would be installed in Atitalaquia. In addition, human rights activist Jesús Bañuelos Acevedo was assassinated in the same region in June 2022.
Pérez Romero documented Hidalgo’s environmental problems and the repression of human rights activists through various journalistic projects, including as a reporter for the Son Politikón FM program on Radio Violeta, on his own YouTube channel and as a researcher for the investigative platform Atlas de Justicia Ambiental.
Journalists in Mexico face a constant risk of violence. According to IPI data, 14 journalists were killed in Mexico last year. Most recently, on February 23, photojournalist José Ramiro Araujo Ochoa was murdered by two teenagers for refusing to give away his camera equipment during a robbery attempt
“Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries for journalists,” IPI Director of Advocacy Amy Brouillette said. “Mexican authorities rarely investigate these cases, allowing those responsible to attack journalists with impunity. The government must properly examine the death of Abisaí Pérez, and fully investigate the possibility that he may have been killed, and explore any potential links between this death and his journalistic work.”
She added: “IPI also condemns the killing of José Ramiro Araujo Ochoa during a suspected robbery. We extend our condolences to his family and colleagues and urge authorities to ensure the suspects are fully held to account.”