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UN human rights official voices dismay as third journalist is killed in a month

(RSF/IFEX) - 8 July 2011 - Reporters Without Borders is appalled to learn that Ángel Castillo Corona, a journalist based in Ocuilan, in the central state of Mexico, was beaten to death on the highway from Ocuilan to nearby Tiaguistenco on 4 July. His unidentified assailants also killed his 16-year-old son.

The press freedom organization urges the authorities to react to the seemingly endless violence against the media by conducting a thorough debate on how to protect journalists and effectively combat impunity. The organization shares the concern about Mexico's journalists voiced by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, who is currently visiting Mexico.

Castillo was the press officer for the municipality of Ocuilan's and a columnist for the regional dailies Puntual and Diario de México, writing about regional politics. The exact circumstances of his death are not clear, but according to the police, he and his son were attacked by men in another car while driving on the freeway between Ocuilan and Tiaguistenco. His son died on the spot when the assailants ran him down with their car. Castillo, who was given a severe beating, died after being taken to the nearby Adolfo López Mateo hospital.

Reporters Without Borders offers its condolences to Castillo's widow, family and colleagues, calls on the police and judicial authorities to carry out a thorough investigation aimed at identifying and punishing those responsible for this shocking double murder, and urges them not to rule out the possibility that it was linked to Castillo's work as a journalist.

Representative of journalists' organizations in Toluca and Mexico met yesterday with Mexico state prosecutor general Alfredo Castillo Cervantes, expressing their outrage about Castillo's murder, which brings the number of journalists killed nationwide since 2000 to 76.

Castillo was the third journalist to be killed in the past month in Mexico. Pablo Ruelas Barraza was killed in the northwestern state of Sonora on 13 June. He worked for the Diario del Yaqui in Huatabampo and El Regional de Sonora in Hermosillo. Miguel Ángel López Velasco, a columnist for the local online daily Notiver, was killed in the east coast city of Veracruz on 20 June.

The frequency of killings of journalists has turned Mexico into the western hemisphere's deadliest country for the media. With a total of seven murders in 2010 in which the motive was clearly linked to the victim's work as journalist, last year Mexico was the world's second deadliest country for the media, after Pakistan.

During a meeting yesterday with representatives of Mexican and international free speech NGOs, including Reporters Without Borders' Mexico correspondent, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay voiced dismay at the ever-increasing violence against journalists in Mexico and said these crimes could not remain unpunished. Freedom of expression is a priority for her office, she stressed.
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