Miami (June 14, 2012)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today expressed indignation at the killing of another journalist in the Mexican state of Veracruz, where this year most crimes against members of the press have occurred.
The hemisphere organization urged the authorities to “deal with these cases diligently, efficiently and responsibly” and speed up actions to bring into force laws for the protection of journalists at risk and making crimes against them federal offenses.
Víctor Manuel Báez Chino became the sixth journalist killed in Mexico so far this year – the fifth to die in Veracruz since April. Báez Chino, editor of the online police beat section of the newspaper El Portal de Xalapa in Xalapa, the capital city of Veracruz, was kidnapped yesterday at around 11:30 p.m. According to his local colleagues his body, with signs of having been tortured, was discovered this morning near the center of the city, with a note warning that “this month is going to be the worst one for reporters.”
The chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Gustavo Mohme, offered his sympathy to Báez Chino’s family and colleagues and called on the authorities to “deal with these cases diligently, efficiently and responsibly.” He recalled in addition that in the last two years the IAPA had been able to establish that more than 20 journalists working in Veracruz had given up their work in the face of the violence unleashed by organized crime and the scant safety or protection state and federal authorities were providing.
The authorities said today that the death of Báez Chino – also a member of the editorial board of the Web site Reporteros Policiacos (Police Reporters) – was believed to be linked to organized crime. Three armed men aboard a grey pickup truck have intercepted him as he was leaving his office, ordering him to get into the vehicle, in which they fled to an unknown destination.
At a press conference, Veracruz government spokesperson Gina Domínguez declared that the crimes sought to intimidate the public and have the authorities withdraw from the fight against criminal gangs, and she promised to use every tool under the law “to go after those responsible.” The Mexican Attorney General’s Office announced the dispatch of a special squad to investigate the case.
According to information gathered by the IAPA’s Rapid Response Unit in Mexico one month ago Báez Chino received a telephone call from Domínguez in which she was said to have suggested he leave Veracruz, as the government could not protect him from “those people”. The official denied having made such a call.
The IAPA saw as a significant advance the adoption in March of a constitutional amendment to bring crimes against journalists and news media under federal jurisdiction, ratified last week by the legislatures of 16 of Mexico’s 32 states. However, it repeated its request for the immediate passage of reforms to secondary legislation, such as the Federal Penal Code, the Federal Code of Criminal Procedures and the Organic Law on the Federal Judiciary, so as to ensure the effective implementation of the new amendment.
The IAPA also asked for application, in the case of Veracruz journalists, of urgent protection measures in order to safeguard their lives, as contemplated in the Law for the Protection of Defenders of Human Rights and Journalists, passed in April, and it urged that it be published in the official gazettes so that it would actually enter into law.
Báez Chino, with more than 30 years’ experience as a journalist, was recognized for his seriousness and honesty and regarded by some of his colleagues in Xalapa as “masterly.” In addition to running online publications he used to publish information on security and justice issues.
The IAPA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press and of expression in the Americas. It is made up of more than 1,300 print publications from throughout the Western Hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida. The IAPA Impunity Project is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and has the mission of combating violence against journalists and lessening the impunity surrounding the majority of such crimes. For more information please go to http://www.sipiapa.org; http://www.impunidad.com.