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Reporter under threat killed on World Press Freedom Day

A Mexican journalist who was critical of local authorities in the northern state of Durango was assassinated on 3 May, World Press Freedom Day, report the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) of International PEN.

Carlos Ortega Samper, a reporter for the daily "El Tiempo de Durango" and also an attorney, was ambushed by two pickup trucks on his way home. Four unidentified individuals got off the trucks and pulled Ortega from his car. As he resisted, he was shot three times in the head. He died at the scene.

Just a day before his death, Ortega wrote that he had been threatened by local government officials. He alleged that the town mayor and another local official had threatened him in connection with recent reporting on conditions in a local slaughterhouse.

In the same story, Ortega wrote that he was investigating a local police officer for alleged corruption. He concluded that the three men should be held responsible if anything were to happen to him or his family.

According to IFEX members, Mexico is one of the most dangerous places for journalists in the world. CPJ says 25 journalists have been killed, at least eight in direct reprisal for their work, since 2000, and that seven journalists have disappeared since 2005. Most covered organised crime or government corruption.

IFEX members have found that local and state authorities in Mexico have been ineffective in solving press-related cases and, in some instances, have been complicit in the crimes. Although President Felipe Calderón has promised to introduce legislation that makes crimes against free expression a federal offence (rather than the state's responsibility), a law has yet to be passed.

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Related stories on ifex.org
  • Reporter who criticised local officials gunned down in Durango state

    (CPJ/IFEX) - New York, May 5, 2009 - A Mexican journalist who was critical of local authorities in the northern state of Durango was fatally shot by unidentified assailants on Sunday. In a piece published a day before the killing, the reporter wrote that he had been threatened by local government officials. The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on local and federal authorities to thoroughly and expeditiously investigate the crime.



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