Mexico City, August 27, 2019—The Committee to Protect Journalists today called for an immediate, transparent, and credible investigation into the killing of Nevith Condés Jaramillo, a reporter stabbed to death in the central Mexican state of Estado de México.
Condés Jaramillo’s body was found on August 24 with multiple stab wounds on a hill in the city of Tejupilco, according to a statement that the Estado de México state attorney general’s office shared with local and national media. The statement said that the motive for the attack and identity of attackers is unknown and that the attorney general’s office has opened an investigation.
“With the brutal murder of Nevith Condés Jaramillo, deadly violence against the press in Mexico has reached unprecedented levels,” said Jan-Albert Hootsen, CPJ’s Mexico Representative. “We implore the government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to stop ignoring the almost complete impunity in which crimes are perpetrated against the press.”
Condés Jaramillo, 42, was the founder and editor of the news website El Observatorio del Sur, and published news articles on his Facebook page and videos on YouTube. He previously worked as a radio show host and reporter for the local station Radio Roca, according to a colleague and friend of the reporter, who asked for anonymity to protect his safety.
The colleague told CPJ yesterday there was “no doubt in his mind” that Condés Jaramillo was killed because of his journalism. “I’ve known him for many years as a reporter and a social activist who cared about his community and who did not like injustice,” he said.
On June 18, Condés Jaramillo was one of the first journalists to report on a helicopter crash near Tejupilco. In a video and Facebook post, the journalist reported that gunmen shot at the pilot of a helicopter that was transporting three women to a hospital. State authorities initially denied that the helicopter was shot at, but later confirmed the shooting, according to other news outlets that reported on the crash.
According to the reporter’s colleague, Condés Jaramillo received threats several days after the crash. The colleague said that Condés Jaramillo did not specify where the threats came from, but that he believed they may have originated from organized crime and been related to Condés Jaramillo’s coverage of the crash.
Condés Jaramillo had previously said members of organized crime and local authorities had threatened him, the colleague added. He was unable to provide further details about the threats or to which reports they may have been related.
An official of the Federal Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists confirmed to CPJ yesterday that Condés Jaramillo had reported receiving threats on several occasions. The official, who asked for anonymity to be able to speak on the matter, said that on several occasions Condés Jaramillo reported receiving threats from municipal government officials in Tejupilco. The official declined to provide further details.
According to the official, the mechanism tried to enroll Condés Jaramillo in a federal protection scheme in January 2018 and in June of this year, but that the journalist declined to be enrolled.
CPJ was unable to find contact information for relatives of Condés Jaramillo. Several telephone calls CPJ made to the municipal government of Tejupilco and the Estado de México state attorney general’s office on August 25 and August 26 went unanswered.
Ricardo Sánchez Pérez del Pozo, who heads the office of the Federal Special Prosecutor for Attention to crimes Committed against Freedom of Expression, told CPJ yesterday that his office had not opened an investigation into the murder, as neither the state authorities of Estado de México nor the family of the reporter had requested his office to do so.
Mexico is the most deadly country in the world for journalists in 2019. According to CPJ research, at least four journalists have been killed in direct relation to their work in 2019. CPJ is investigating seven other killings, including that of Condés Jaramillo, to determine whether the motive was related to the journalists’ work.