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Mexican government unable to guarantee free expression as another journalist is killed

The funeral of journalist Octavio Rojas in Tezonapa, Mexico, Aug. 12, 2014. Rojas was the 10th journalist killed during the Peña Nieto administration
The funeral of journalist Octavio Rojas in Tezonapa, Mexico, Aug. 12, 2014. Rojas was the 10th journalist killed during the Peña Nieto administration

AP Photo/Felix Marquez

This is a translation of a statement that was originally published on articulo19.org on 16 April 2015.

On Tuesday 14 April 2015, the owner and director of the radio station “Transmitiendo sentimientos, la voz de Juxtlahuaca”, Abel Manuel Bautista Raymundo was killed. He held an administrative position at the station and supported journalists in the area. With his death, the total number of journalists killed during the Peña Nieto administration comes to 11.

Bautista was driving a Radio Spacio 96.1 vehicle clearly labeled with the word “Press” around 5pm, when he was stopped and shot to death in the San Pedro de Alto neighbourhood of Santiago Juxtlahuaca.

The authorities responsible for the investigation sent out a preliminary release that suggested the motive for the killing could be connected to the purchase of a vehicle.

Oaxaca is one of the most dangerous states in Mexico for journalists. Of the 83 media workers killed in possible relation to their journalistic work, seven of those took place in Oaxaca in the last 15 years. Oaxaca is the state with the fourth highest number of murders of media workers, after Veracruz, Tamaulipas and Coahuila.

Of the 11 journalists killed in Mexico under the current administration, three took place in Oaxaca. The first was Alberto López Bello, from El Imparcial, who was killed on 17 July 2013, and had been detained by police only weeks earlier while working on a story. Although there was a history of harassment against Bello by state security forces, the Attorney General's office ruled that the murder was not connected to his journalistic work.

“Two days ago President Enrique Peña Nieto told media owners that free expression is guaranteed in our country. The murders of 11 media workers in Mexico, three of them in Oaxaca, tell a different story. Guarantees for the right to freedom of expression do not exist. Ninety-nine percent of these cases go unsolved,” said Darío Ramírez, Director of the Mexico and Central America ARTICLE 19 office.

In August 2014, Octavio Rojas Hernández, a correspondent for Diario Buen Tono in Veracruz, was killed in the doorway of his home. Days earlier he had reported on a gasoline theft in Cosalapa, which was orchestrated by municipal officials. Impunity still reigns in the case.

ARTICLE 19 demands that the link between the murder and the work of Bautista Raymundo be investigated, along with the fact that he was killed with a gun that is used exclusively by the army, according to Article 11 of the Federal Law on Firearms and Explosives.

The Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Freedom of Expression (FEADLE), has the power to take over the present investigation and exhaust all lines of enquiry as a crime under federal law.

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