The killing of a Honduran journalist in Mexico – the ninth journalist slain there so far this year – again highlights an ongoing failure by authorities in that country to do enough to end violent attacks on journalists, the International Press Institute (IPI) said today.
Video journalist Edwin Rivera Paz, a former cameraman for Honduran television program Los Verduleros (The Grocers) on national television broadcaster HCH (Hable como Habla), was found dead with gunshot wounds on Sunday in the city of Acayucan, in Mexico’s Veracruz state.
Yesterday, the Office of the Attorney General in Veracruz, one of the most violent states in Mexico, opened an investigation into the death. According to news reports, Rivera’s assailants were seen following him on motorcycles and they gunned him down in his home neighbourhood.
The death came just weeks after the charred remains of Salvador Adame – a journalist abducted on May in the state of Michoacán – were found at the side of a road in the municipality of García Zamora on June 14. Adame, the director of local Canal 6 Media TV, had been missing since May 18, when gunmen kidnapped him in the municipality of Nueva Italia. Police have arrested the leader of a local vigilante “self-defence” group, but did not immediately disclose a motive.
IPI Director of Advocacy and Communications Steven M. Ellis repeated IPI’s calls for greater scrutiny of Mexican authorities’ actions.
“Each year journalists are cut down at an alarming rate in Mexico – the only place arguably deadlier is an active war zone – but little progress is ultimately made in holding their killers accountable or ensuring that these crimes won’t be repeated,” he said. “It’s time to critically evaluate what the federal government is doing to promote journalists’ safety and ask why that is still failing because this cycle must be broken.”
Rivera reportedly fled to Mexico following the shooting and killing of Igor Padilla, the director and producer of Los Verduleros, in the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula on Jan. 17. A Honduran journalist wishing to remain unidentified told Reuters that Rivera had concerns about his safety after Padilla’s death and sought refugee status in Mexico.
Padilla, who worked for HCH covering general news and crime, was shot by four men in police uniforms after reportedly receiving a call from a woman asking him to step outside while he was filming at a store. Police arrested 18 alleged members of the Central American criminal gang Barrio 18 the following day. Three men were charged with carrying out the shooting, but there have been no convictions in the case.
Honduran police announced that they are seeking more information to determine whether the two deaths are related. A police spokesman told Reuters that they were looking at whether criminal gangs were involved.
According to IPI’s research, at least eight other journalists have been killed in Mexico this year, although IPI so far has only been able to definitively link two of those cases to the journalists’ work: Miroslava Breach, killed on March 23 in Chihuahua, and Maximino Rodriguez Palacios, gunned down on April 14 in Bajo California del Sur.
Other journalists killed in 2017 include Cecilio Pineda Brito in February; Ricardo Monlui Cabrera in March, Juan José Roldán Ávila and Filiberto Alvarez in April, Javier Valdez Cardenas in May and Adame sometime in May or June. The toll does not include Marcela de Jesús Natalia, who was shot in the head in early June and was incorrectly reported in some media outlets as having been killed.
The state of Veracruz, where the most killings of Mexican journalists have taken place in recent years, is one of the deadliest regions in the world for journalists. Measures taken by the Mexican federal government in recent years to promote journalists’ safety, including a federal special prosecutor dedicated to investigating crimes against journalists and a protection mechanism for reporters under threat, have failed to end the continuing violence and impunity.
Honduras has also proven deadly for journalists in recent years. According to IPI’s research, at least 12 journalists have been killed since early 2015. A report released in May by the country’s National Human Rights Commission found that at least 70 journalists have been killed in the country since 2001 and that 91 percent of those cases have gone unpunished.