Associated Press journalists recognized by Overseas Press Club for reporting on disappeared in Mexico

Three Associated Press journalists were honored by the Overseas Press Club of America (OPC) this year for the “best reporting in any medium on Latin America.”

The U.S.-based foreign correspondence association recognized journalists Eduardo Castillo, Christopher Sherman and Dario Lopez-Mills with The Robert Spiers Benjamin Award for their project “Thousands of Mexican Families Mourn the ‘Other Disappeared.’”

“In Mexico and other places where kidnapping is common, the word ‘disappeared’ is an active verb and also an adjective to describe the missing,” Castillo wrote as part of the series. “Disappearing someone means kidnapping, torturing, killing and disposing of the body in a place where no one will ever find it.”

The series was released after 43 students from the Rural Normal School of Ayotzinapa disappeared in Iguala, Guerrero in 2014. The project looked at the wider problem of missing and disappeared persons in the city of Iguala and the country as a whole.

It was accompanied by an interactive sharing the stories of the missing and their families in Iguala.

The disappearance of the 43, Sherman wrote, “gave hundreds of other families who had loved ones vanish the courage to come forward, many for the first time, to report the crimes. These, they said, were the ‘other disappeared.’” Citing the government, Sherman added “more than 25,500 people disappeared in Mexico between 2007 and July 31, 2015.”

The OPC said “This powerful project examined the most urgent issue confronting Mexico and Latin America: impunity.”

Castillo is acting bureau chief for Mexico and Central America, Sherman is a reporter and Lopez-Mills is photo editor. All are based in Mexico City, according to the AP.

As part of the 77th Annual OPC Awards, the organization recognized journalists who produced excellent international reporting in hostile climates, according to a press release. The winning entries centered on conflict, corruption and disaster, it added.

“Journalists covering these events now face a more hazardous climate with a growing number of limitations to free speech across the globe,” OPC said.

The 22 winning entries were chosen from among 486, according to OPC.

Awards were given on April 28 in New York City.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.