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Journalist assassinated in Puebla, second within a week in Mexico

Pallbearers carrying a casket at the funeral of assassinated journalist Aurelio Campos Contreras in Huauchinango, México, 16 September 2016
Pallbearers carrying a casket at the funeral of assassinated journalist Aurelio Campos Contreras in Huauchinango, México, 16 September 2016

AP Photo/Pablo Spencer

The following is a translation of an article that was originally published on on 17 September 2016.

Aurelio Cabrera Campos, a reporter and director of El Gráfico newspaper in the Sierra Norte area of the state of Puebla, died on the morning of 15 September 2016 in a hospital in Huauchinango after being shot by unidentified individuals. The State Attorney General's Office said the attack took place at 11:00 p.m. the day before, while Cabrera Campos was driving on the Mexico-Tuxpan highway.

A source close to the journalist, who wished to remain anonymous, said Cabrera Campos previously worked as a crime reporter for a weekly paper but founded El Gráfico just over a year ago in order to cover the violence in the northern part of the state. He primarily worked with official sources.

The anonymous source added that a group of the journalist's friends and colleagues met at the Puebla cathedral and issued a call to the State Attorney General's Office to take action on Cabrera Campos's case. The Attorney General's Office reported that a file has been opened and a request has been issued for Ricardo Nájera Herrera, the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Freedom of Expression (Fiscal Especial para la Atención de los Delitos Cometidos contra la Libertad de Expresión, FEADLE), to collaborate on the case.

In a press release, the National Human Rights Commission (Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos, CNDH) condemned the assassination and said they will conduct their own investigation. The CNDH also called on the Puebla government to implement protective measures for the journalist's family. "Each and every case involving an attack on a journalist and media outlet should receive the full attention of the judicial authorities. And among the lines of investigation, the judicial authorities should analyse any possible relationship between the attack and the profession of the victim," the CNDH noted.

In General Recommendation 24 on "Exercising Freedom of Expression in Mexico", published in February 2016, the CNDH noted that aggressive actions against journalists and media outlets result in damages on both the individual and collective levels, because these actions infringe on the freedom of expression rights of media professionals and deprive society as a whole of information, while also resulting in nodes of self-censorship in certain regions of the country.

ARTICLE 19 calls on FEADLE to conduct a prompt and effective investigation into the assassination of Aurelio Cabrera Campos, and, in addition, to thoroughly investigate the pattern of impunity that exists in cases of freedom of expression crimes throughout Mexico. According to FEADLE's own statistics, in the six years since the special prosecutor's office was created, only two sentencing verdicts have been reached in cases involving freedom of expression related crimes.

Likewise, ARTICLE 19 calls on the CNDH to continue its investigation in the case and, above all, to dictate and ensure the effective implementation of protective measures for Cabrera Campos's family and for all journalists who are experiencing harassment in Puebla.

2016 - one of the most lethal years for the press

In just one week, between 13 and 15 September, two journalists were assassinated in Mexico. To date, 2016, along with 2006, 2008 and 2010, rates as a year with the highest incidence of journalist assassinations.

The conditions for freedom of expression in Mexico are alarming. In eight months, ARTICLE 19 has documented 10 assassinations of journalists, all with possible links to their work. On average one journalist is being killed every 26 days in the country.

Cabrera Campos's assassination took place right after the murder of Agustín Pavia Pavia, a host for the Tu Un Ñuu Savi community radio station, in Huajuapan, Oaxaca. In Pavia Pavia's case, unidentified individuals entered the radio host's residence on the night of 13 September and shot him multiple times. Pavia Pavia was the second Tu Un Ñuu Savi affiliate to be assassinated. The first, Salvador Olmos, died as a result of torture and extrajudicial execution by municipal police in Huajuapan.

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