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MEXICO: Journalist and son murdered in Mexico State

Wednesday 13 July 2011 - 1:00am

RAN 35/11 13 July 2011

The Writers in Prison Committee PEN of International (WiPC) protests the murder of yet another journalist in Mexico: Angel Castillo Corona, who was killed along with his 16-year-old son in Mexico State on 3 July 2011. Castillo's death brings to three the number of journalists murdered in the country in the last month, while one other has been abducted in the same period. In all, a total of 41 print journalists and writers have been killed in Mexico since 2004, while 10 more have gone missing. The WiPC calls on the federal and state authorities to investigate Castillo's murder as a matter of the utmost urgency, and to bring the culprits to justice. It also calls on the authorities to implement the journalist protection mechanisms it promised in November 2010 immediately.

According to police reports, journalist Angel Castillo Corona and his son, Ángel Castillo Téllez, were driving on the highway between Ocuilan and nearby Tiaguistenco in Mexico State in the early hours of 3 July 2011 when they were attacked by unidentified men in another car. Castillo's son was run over and died immediately, while Castillo passed away in a local hospital after being severely beaten.

Castillo worked as press officer for the municipality of Ocuilan and wrote about regional politics for the daily newspapers Portal and Diario de México. Representatives of local journalists' organizations reportedly met the Mexico state prosecutor general to protest the murders on 7 July.

June to July has been a particularly bloody month for Mexico's journalists: Castillo is the third to be killed in Mexico in the last month, while one other has disappeared. Columnist Miguel Ángel López Velasco was shot dead along with his wife and son in their home in Veracruz state on 20 June 2011, journalist Pablo Ruelas Barraza was gunned down in Sonora state on 13 June, and editor Marco Antonio López Ortiz has not been seen since 7 June, when he was reportedly abducted in Guerrero state (see RAN 33/11 for details). Moreover, the body of columnist Noel López Olguín, who went missing in March 2011 was found in Veracruz state on 1 June (see Update #1 to RAN 13/11).

Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to work as a journalist. Since January 2004, 39 print journalists and two writers have been murdered, while 10 print journalists have gone missing in the same period. Nine of the killings and three of the disappearances occurred in 2010 alone; the toll for 2011 to date stands at five and one respectively. Few if any of these crimes have been properly investigated or punished. PEN International believes that it is likely that many of these writers were targeted in retaliation for their critical reporting, particularly on drug trafficking. While organised crime groups are responsible for many attacks, state agents, especially government officials and the police, are reportedly the main perpetrators of violence against journalists, and complicit in its continuance.

On 3 June 2011, PEN Canada, in collaboration with the International Human Rights Program at the Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, published a timely and provocative report on the situation in Mexico: Corruption, Impunity, Silence: The War on Mexico's Journalists (also available in Spanish). The same day Canada's national newspaper The Globe and Mail published an op-ed by John Ralston Saul, President of PEN International, on the report.

Useful links

•Report on the murder of Angel Castillo Corona and his son by Reporters Without Borders (8 July 2011) (English; Spanish)
•Letter from Article 19 to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the occasion of her visit to Mexico (6 July 2011) (Spanish only)