The IPI global network today condemned the killings of two Mexican journalists earlier this month. IPI calls for a thorough investigation into the motives of the murders in both cases and urges authorities to find the killers. Authorities must do a better job of protecting journalists who have been reported to be at risk.
On January 17, photojournalist Margarito Martínez was shot in the head outside his home in the northern border city of Tijuana. The journalist was shot three times by unidentified assailants as he left for work. He was found by his 16-year-old daughter immediately after.
Martínez covered gang-related crime and violence for national and international news outlets as a photojournalist. He also worked as a fixer assisting international outlets like the BBC and the Los Angeles Times. According to press agency Reuters, Martinez had been included in a state program aimed at safeguarding the lives of journalists after he received threats.
It is the second murder of a journalist in Mexico in a week, after José Luis Gamboa Arenas was shot on January 10 in the southeastern state of Veracruz. Gamboa Arenas, the general director of the digital newspaper Inforegio, was found badly injured on a street after an alleged robbery. He was taken to a hospital where he died from his injuries. His body was only identified by his family members on January 14.
The IPI global network deplores the murders of Martínez and Gamboa Arenas, IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen said. “Authorities should thoroughly investigate these killings, determine whether the journalists were targeted due to their work, and find the suspected killers. It is essential to secure justice for the victims and their families and prevent a chilling effect on other Mexican journalists who might avoid publishing risky stories as a result of these and murders of journalists in the country.”
IPI also calls on Mexican authorities to provide a safer working environment for journalists, especially those working on organized crime and violence. “It is extremely troubling that Martínez was murdered despite his participation in Mexico’s protection program for journalists, a fact which only further raises the responsibility of the Mexican authorities to solve this case swiftly and prevent the usual impunity from settling in.”
Marina del Pilar Ávila Olmeda, governor of Baja California state, where Tijuana is located, issued a statement late Monday in which she condemned Martinez’s murder. “We trust in the work of the State Attorney General’s Office to resolve this unfortunate act and that it does not remain unpunished”, she said.
In 2021, Mexico was the deadliest country for journalists in the world, with seven journalists killed for their work, according to IPI’s Death Watch. All seven cases were targeted killings. According to IPI’s analysis, journalists researching local politics and organized crime, including drug trafficking, are especially at risk.
Mexico is known for its high level of impunity when it comes to crimes against journalists. In 2021, Mexican authorities arrested suspects in only one of the seven cases of journalist killings. Despite this tragic status quo, the government has decided to stop funds allocated for upholding the Law for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists (LPPDHP).