The body of a kidnapped Mexican journalist was found on Tuesday, half-naked, bound, and with a bag over her head, along the side of a highway in the state of Puebla, Mexico. Showing signs of torture, an autopsy determined that the 32-year-old journalist died of asphyxiation.
According to the Veracruz Attorney General’s Office, the reporter from El Sol de Orizaba, Anabel Flores Salazar, was abducted from her home in Orizaba, Veracruz, early Monday morning when armed men entered the building.
Flores Salazar’s aunt, Sandra Luz Salazar, who was in the house at the time, said she saw at least eight men dressed in military uniforms – who claimed they had a warrant for the journalist’s arrest – force her into one of three grey trucks outside.
Veracruz State Governor, Javier Duarte Ochoa, tweeted soon after a confirmation that the vehicles used in the abduction were reported stolen.
This tragedy is only the latest example of the dangers journalists face in Mexico’s southern states.
In a report published by ARTICLE 19, an independent human rights organisation working to protect and promote the right to freedom of expression, the group explores “the disappearances and forced disappearances of those exercising freedom of expression in Mexico.”
The report, presented on 9th February 2016, outlines the circumstances of the disappearances of 23 journalists in Mexico from 2003 to 2015, identifying that 96% of cases involved journalists writing about corruption and security issues related to criminal organisations and public officials on municipal, state, and federal levels.
In Veracruz, where the latest murder took place, the state has a particularly terrible reputation of impunity for crimes against journalists. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has criticised Duarte Ochoa and his government for being “incapable and unwilling to prosecute crimes against the press.”
Futhermore, CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas, Carlos Lauria, has accused Veracruz authorities of a “history of denigrating the activities of local journalists without providing any concrete evidence.”
CPJ’s existing research indicates that of the 11 journalists killed in Mexico in direct relation to their work between 2011 and 2015, six were either killed or had reported in Veracruz. Impunity is often cited as one of the main causes for violence against journalists in the southern state.
In a global perspective, The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) also released a report on 3rd February 2016 of the 2,297 global media deaths from 1990 to 2015, 120 of which occurred in Mexico, according to the report. These figures place Mexico as the third most dangerous country for journalists and media staff after Iraq, with 309 deaths; and the Philippines, with 146.