14 February 2022, London, UK. The murder of journalist Heber López Vázquez, in Salina Cruz, Oaxaca, on 10 February 2022, is yet another tragic example of the Mexican authorities’ failure to protect its journalists. Heber López Vasquez is the fifth journalist killed this year in Mexico in likely retaliation for their work, PEN International said today.
Heber López Vásquez, 42, who was killed as he arrived at his recording studio, had been a journalist for more than 18 years. He directed and founded the digital media NoticiasWeb, where he wrote mainly about politics and corruption. According to reports, his latest investigations related to irregularities in local and federal government programmes and projects.
“The Mexican authorities must thoroughly investigate the murder of journalist Heber López Vásquez in a prompt and transparent manner. Until those responsible for the murders of journalists are brought to justice and media workers are provided with adequate protection, the cycle of impunity will continue to reign in Mexico," said Romana Cacchioli, Executive Director of PEN International.
The Oaxaca Attorney General's Office reported that the murder of Heber López was linked to his journalistic work and two suspects were arrested on the night of 10 February. The suspects were remanded in custody by a judge on Sunday 13 February 2022. PEN International acknowledges the response of the authorities and that the focus of the investigation is linked to Heber Lopez’s journalistic work. In addition, the Ministry of the Interior announced that the Mechanism for the Protection of Journalists is supporting Heber López Vázquez’s family.
PEN urges the Mexican authorities at all levels to fully address the crisis of violence against journalists in the country; and to ensure that protection measures provided through the Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists are efficient and effective in protecting journalists and their families. The Mexican government must guarantee the full exercise of free expression in compliance with their international obligations.