One year after the murder of Regina Martínez, the demand for press protection grows

To commemorate the one-year anniversary of the killing of Mexican journalist Regina Martínez, hundreds of journalists in 20 Mexican cities took to the streets on Sunday, April 28 to demand protection for the press and investigations into crimes against journalists.  On Storify and Tumblr, journalists published images and text about the unpunished killings and attacks on journalists.

On April 28, 2012, Martínez, a correspondent for Proceso magazine in Veracruz, was found dead in her home in the city of Xalapa with signs of strangulation and beatings.  She had a 20-year career in journalism, half of it with Proceso. She reported on the killing of political candidates, natural disasters, human rights violations, and corruption in the state government. One of her most important stories was on the killing of a woman who had been raped by members of the army but according to the government had died from “acute anemia,” said Darío Ramírez of Artículo 19 in an interview with Gatopardo magazine.

The day before she died, Martínez published a story on the killing of a political leader and the arrest of nine municipal police officers accused of having links to organized crime.

After her death, four more journalists were killed in the same state of Veracruz in 2012, totaling nine deaths in 18 months and making the state one of the 10 most dangerous places in the world for the press.  At the beginning of April, a man was sentenced to 38 years of prison for the crime but Proceso and other organizations like the Committee to Project Journalists (CPJ) and Artículo 19 denounced inconsistencies in the case – the accused, Jorge Antonio Hernández Silva, said he was tortured until he confessed, and his fingerprints did not match those found at the scene.

International and Mexican organizations have pressured the government to clear up crimes against the press and protect journalists at risk.  One result has been the recent approval by the Mexican congress of a proposal to put crimes against the press under federal jurisdiction, and the creation of the Mechanism for the Protection of Journalists.  However Mike O’Connor, Mexico’s representative on the Committee to Protect Journalists was doubtful: “So while the legislation gives the attorney general the power to prosecute anti-press crime, what happens if he doesn't want to use it?” It seems that a new example of impunity will put the movement to the test.

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.