His Excellency Francisco J. Barrio Terrazas,
Ambassador of Mexico to Canada
45 O'Connor Street, Suites 1000 and 1030,
Ottawa, Ontario, K1P 1A4
July 8, 2010
I am writing on behalf of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), a non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to promote and protect press freedom and freedom of expression around the world. CJFE is gravely concerned that three journalists have been killed in Mexico in the last ten days.
Juan Francisco Rodríguez Ríos, president of the National Union of Press Reporters' local in Guerrero state and correspondent for El Sol de Acapulco in Coyuca de Benítez, and his wife María Elvira Hernández Galeana, correspondent for Semanario Nueva Línea were killed on June 28, 2010, as they sat in a cyber-café with their eight-year-old son. According to witnesses, two armed men stormed into the café and fired several bullets into their bodies at close range. Rodríguez Rios had recently complained about threats to freedom of expression at an annual convention for Guerrero journalists.
Then, on July 7, 2010, the body of Editor Hugo Alfredo Olivera Cartera was found in his truck in a rural area of Michoacán state. Shortly after the reporter was found dead, unidentified individuals broke into the offices of the newspaper owned and edited by Olivera, El Día de Michoacán, and took computer hard drives and flash drives. According to reports by IFEX, the global free expression network, the 27-year-old Olivera had fearlessly covered organized crime for a number of media outlets. He had also filed a complaint with the National Commission of Human Rights in February 2010 after being beaten by federal police while trying to cover a story.
CJFE condemns the ongoing violence against journalists in Mexico and calls for immediate action by the Special Prosecutor's Office for Dealing with Crimes Against Journalists to determine who is responsible. Since January 1, 2010, CJFE has recorded nine journalists murdered in Mexico, making it the most dangerous country for journalists to work in the Western Hemisphere.
The impunity with which crimes are committed against journalists in Mexico has had a devastating effect on press freedom and freedom of expression in the country. In many regions, journalists have been forced to self-censor their work and some media organizations like Noticias de El Sol de la Laguna have decided to stop covering crime altogether in an attempt to protect their employees. We urge President Calderon to reaffirm his commitment to ending the climate of impunity in media killings and other media related violence and we call on his government to take the steps necessary to ensure that journalists can report freely and without fear of retribution.
We thank you for your attention and look forward to your reply.
Arnold Amber, CJFE President