New York, May 26, 2009--Authorities found the body of
a journalist who covered the police beat in northern Mexico this morning after he was abducted
from his house on Monday night, according to Mexican news reports. The
Committee to Protect Journalists called on local and federal authorities today to
conduct a thorough investigation and bring those responsible to justice.
Authorities found the body of Eliseo Barrón Hernández, left, a
reporter and photographer for the Torreón-based daily La Opinión, in the
city of Gómez Palacio, Durango, where he lived, reported the
national daily Milenio. The Durango
state deputy attorney general, Noel Díaz, told reporters that Barrón's body was
found with a gunshot wound to his head in an irrigation ditch, according to The
At around 8 p.m. on Monday, at least eight hooded gunmen
entered Barrón's home, beat the reporter and forced him out of the house and
into a white Nissan Tsuru that was parked outside, his wife told local
reporters. He was not heard from again.
Barrón, 35, had covered the police beat for 10 years for La
Opinión, which is based out of neighboring Coahuila state, according to the
national daily El Universal. In the days prior to his kidnapping, the
journalist had covered a corruption scandal in the Torreón police that had
resulted in the firing of 302 police officers and the investigation of at least
20 others, according to Milenio.
Local authorities have not make public any leads about their
investigation or reasons behind Barrón's abduction and murder. Federal
authorities have taken over the case, Milenio
reported, although it is not clear why the investigation has been transferred.
"We condemn the vicious slaying of
Eliseo Barrón Hernández, and extend our
condolences to his family and friends," said Carlos Lauría, CPJ's senior
program coordinator for the Americas.
"We urge Mexican investigators to take a thorough look into Barrón's reporting
on crime and corruption, find those responsible for his murder and bring them
to justice. Journalists must be able to report on issues that affect the daily
lives of Mexican citizens. The health of Mexico's democracy depends on the
media's ability to report the news freely."
In the afternoon of May 3, four unidentified individuals
Ortega Samper, a reporter for the Durango City-based daily El Tiempo de
Durango, out of his car and shot him dead as he was driving home in the
town of Santa María El Oro.
In an article published the day prior to the attack, Ortega alleged that local
officials had threatened him in connection with recent reporting and
investigations. Authorities are still investigating Ortega's killing and have
not publicly discussed their inquiry.
According to CPJ's annual
survey, Attacks on the Press, Mexico is one of the most dangerous
places in the world for journalists. Since 2000, 27 journalists have been killed, including Barrón. At
least eight have been killed in direct reprisal for their work. In addition,
seven journalists have disappeared since
2005. Most covered organized crime or government corruption.
CPJ research has found that
local and state authorities in Mexico
have been ineffective in solving press-related cases and, in some instances,
have been complicit in the crimes. In June 2008, a CPJ
delegation met with President Felipe Calderón, who expressed support for
federal legislation protecting free expression. In April, the Mexican Chamber
of Deputies approved a measure
imposing penalties for crimes against "journalistic activity." The
bill has stalled in the Senate.
"The relentless killing of journalists in Mexico has
become a direct threat not only to press freedom but to the viability of the
country's institutions," said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. "The legislature
must take action to protect the basic rights of Mexican citizens."