Director-General alarmed by wave of journalist assassinations in Mexico and calls for urgent investigation
The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, today expressed alarm and anger over the murders of three Mexican journalists in the state of Veracruz in less than a week. Ms Bokova forcefully condemned the killings and called on Mexican authorities to do everything within their power to solve these crimes and bring those responsible to justice.
“News of the murders of Gabriel Huge and Guillermo Luna Varela – tortured and killed less than one week after the assassination of Regina Martínez Pérez – is deeply disturbing, and reflects an alarming state of affairs in the state of Veracruz,” the Director-General said in a statement from Tunis, where she is attending an international conference to mark World Press Freedom Day, celebrated annually on 3 May.
“That these gruesome crimes have been committed on the eve of World Press Freedom Day – a day on which we honour the vital role played by journalists in upholding democratic values, protecting citizens’ rights to be informed and calling those in power to account – makes the situation all the more intolerable.
“I condemn these three murders in the strongest possible terms and urge the Mexican authorities to act quickly and decisively to find those responsible. Impunity is not an option.
” The bodies of Gabriel Huge, a photographer formerly from the daily Notiver, and Guillermo Luna Varela, formerly of Veracruznews, were found on 3 May in plastic bags near the banks of a canal in Boca del Rio. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters without Borders, they had been reported missing the day before, after being called out to cover a road accident.
The bodies of two other people, retired photographer Esteban Rodriguez and Irasema Becerra, companion of Guillermo Luna Varela, were found nearby.
These latest killings follow the murder on 28 April of Regina Martinez, a correspondent for the weekly magazine Proceso, who was found dead in her home in Xalapa, also in the state of Veracruz. She was known particularly for her in-depth reporting on drug cartels.
These three news deaths brings to nine the total of journalists murdered in the region over the past 18 months.
Media contact: Sylvie Coudray, +33 (0)1 45 68 42 12
UNESCO is the United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. Article 1 of its Constitution requires the Organization to “further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations.” To realize this the Organization is requested to “collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image…”