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Female journalist in Mexico beaten in reprisal for reporting

Karla Janeth Silva, a journalist and correspondent for El Heraldo de León in Silao, Guanajuato, was assaulted by three men on the evening of Thursday 4 September 2014.

The attack took place in the newspaper's offices, where the three men violently broke in and assaulted Silva and warned her that she should be more reserved with her reporting.

Silva covers news from Silao for El Heraldo de León, where she writes about events taking place in the city, which is under the administration of mayor Benjamín Solís Arzola, who represents the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI in Spanish). “Recently she had reported on the shortage of municipal services and the insecurity felt in the city,” said Carlos Vertti, assistant editorial manager for El Heraldo.

In an interview with ARTICLE 19, Vertti said that for a few months Silva had not been able to get information from the local government, as many city officials had not responded to her requests.

“The mayor was not giving interviews and one day he said 'listen, I don't want any more of this'. He said it in a serious tone, but it was not threatening. For a while we have not asked him for interviews.”

Silva was taken to Hospital de León in Guanajuato, which is 20 minutes from Silao, for treatment for her injuries. While there she reported the attack to the Guanajuato state Attorney General's Office.

An article published in El Heraldo on 5 September said that Silva had “repeatedly expressed her concerns about falling victim to reprisals. This Thursday, after being assaulted, she said that she had no doubt that her attackers were sent by a city official”.

From 2007 to September 2014, ARTICLE 19 has documented a total of 285 cases in which female journalists were harassed as a result of their professional work. This includes 127 cases when the attacks were physical, 66 threats, 43 acts of intimidations, 19 arbitrary detentions, and 5 murders.

ARTICLE 19 stands with Karla Janeth Silva and El Heraldo de León employees and calls on the Guanajuato state Attorney General's Office not to rule out the journalist's work as a motive, to clarify what took place, and to punish those responsible. This is important because impunity has detrimental effects on the exercise of freedom of expression.

ARTICLE 19 urges the Mexican state to take the necessary protective measure for the journalist and to ensure the effectiveness of a proper investigation to bring those responsible to justice.

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