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MEXICO: Newspaper publisher shot dead

Wednesday 3 February 2010 - 12:00am

RAN 08/10 3 February 2010

The Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN (WiPC) protests the murder of newspaper editor and publisher Jorge Ochoa Martínez, who was shot dead in Ayutla de los Libres, Guerrero state, on 29 January 2010. Ochoa is the second print journalist to be murdered in Mexico in 2010 and the 29th since 2004. The WiPC calls on the federal and state authorities to investigate Ochoa's killing, along with all other unsolved journalist murders, as a matter of the utmost urgency, and to bring the culprits to justice. It also continues to call for the implementation of effective journalist protection programmes.

Jorge Ochoa Martínez, editor and publisher of local newspapers, El Oportuno based in Chilpancingo and El Sol de la Costa based in Ayutla de los Libres, Guerrero state, was shot dead on 29 January 2010. He was reportedly shot several times in the face after leaving a birthday party for a local politician at a restaurant in Ayutla de los Libres. The authorities are investigating but do not as yet have any leads in the case.

Ochoa (55) had not reported receiving any threats. According to a colleague, his newspapers did not tend to cover sensitive stories such as drug trafficking or corruption in any depth due to the poor security situation in Guerrero for journalists and in general. However, his family reportedly believe it possible that his murder was connected to his work. According to the police, there is to date no indication that his death was linked to organised crime.

Guerrero has become one of the most dangerous states for journalists as a result of a turf war between two drug cartels and the state and federal forces' attempts to remain in control. Ochoa is the second print journalist to be killed in Mexico in 2010.

Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to work as a journalist. From January 2004 to January 2009, a total of 29 writers - 28 print journalists and one author - have been murdered, seven of them in 2009 alone. Six more print journalists have disappeared in the same period. Few if any of these crimes have been properly investigated or punished. International PEN believes that it is likely that these journalists 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. For more information, click here.

Useful links

•Report by the Committee to Protect Journalists (1 February 2010): (English); (Spanish)
•Report by Reporters Without Borders (1 February 2010): (English), (Spanish)