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Kidnapped Mexican journalist found dead in Sonora; no official search ever conducted

One day after reporter Marcos Ávila was kidnapped by three armed men in the Mexican state of Sonora, authorities found the journalist's body strangled and with signs of torture. A message that has been attributed to drug-traffickers was found next to the body, reported the newspaper El Universal on the afternoon of Friday, May 18.

Ávila, who reported on matters of public safety and justice for the newspapers El Regional and Diario de Sonora, has become the fifth journalist killed in Mexico during 2012. The day before being kidnapped, Ávila published a story on an operative against drug trafficking in Ciudad Obregón.

The freedom of expression organization Artículo 19 expressed concern that as of midday Friday, May 18, there had been no coordinated effort by federal and state authorities to find the missing journalist.

Artículo 19 said that Mexico is not in compliance with the recommendations set forth by the United Nations Working Group on Involuntary or Forced Disappearances, which visited the country in December in order to urge the Mexican government to establish a national search program for missing persons and to create a protocol for immediate action to locate people unlawfully deprived of their liberty.

Eduardo Flores, director of both the affiliated newspapers, said to El Siglo de Durango that Ávila was experienced in the coverage of police events in the region and said that neither the journalist nor the newspaper had received recent threats. Flores said that Ávila did not write investigative reports and that he only reported information from press releases that were sent by official authorities, reported the newspaper El Diario de Sonora.

The National Commission for Human Rights in Mexico condemned the killing and urged that investigations be carried out to ensure the crime is solved and those responsible punished, reported the newsagency Notimex. The organization Reporters Without Borders warned that the attacks against the press in Mexico are increasing as the presidential elections approach.

Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists. For more information see this map of attacks against the Mexican press compiled by the Knight Center for Journalists in the Americas.

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