No Excuse: Mexico must break cycle of impunity in journalists’ murders

Mexico’s press is caught in a deadly cycle of violence and impunity, with journalists in Veracruz state at particular risk of kidnap and murder. Despite authorities appointing a special prosecutor to investigate crimes against freedom of expression and establishing a protection mechanism for journalists, a lack of political will to end impunity exposes Mexico as one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists. A special report by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Published May 3, 2017

Table of Contents

Video: Moisés Sánchez

Video: Gregorio Jiménez de la Cruz

Foreword: Covering corruption in Mexico means living with impunity

Introduction: Fighting impunity should be priority for Mexican government

In Mexico, one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists, endemic impunity allows criminal gangs, corrupt officials, and cartels to silence their critics. The violence is particularly acute in Veracruz state, where attacks on the press went unpunished during former Governor Javier Duarte de Ochoa’s term in office. Despite federal government efforts to combat this deadly cycle, justice remains elusive, and impunity the norm.

I. Moisés Sánchez: Justice blocked by delays, errors

Veracruz journalist Moisés Sánchez worked under the motto “Living with fear is not an option” but his critical reporting, including of Medellín mayor Omar Cruz Reyes, put him in harm’s way. Cruz is accused of ordering Sánchez’s abduction and murder in January 2015, but delays by authorities in stripping him of immunity allowed the former mayor to escape.

II. Marcos Hernández Bautista: The rebel reporter

Noticias reporter Hernández usually brushed off death threats, but in the days leading up to his murder in January 2016, the Oaxaca-based journalist admitted to being worried by the messages received. A former police chief is convicted of his murder, but to date no mastermind or clear motive has been identified.

III. Gregorio Jiménez de la Cruz: A barbaric silencing

Working in a small Veracruz town mired by gang warfare put local reporter Jiménez on the front lines of danger. When he was murdered in February 2014, assailants cut out his tongue as a warning to other reporters. Despite a series of arrests, including of the alleged hitman, critics say the investigation is flawed, and no convictions have been achieved.

Sidebar: Federal efforts to protect journalists fall short


Infographic: Mexico’s Most Deadly States

Infographic: Motive Unconfirmed

Infographic: A Deadly Profession

COVER PHOTO: Images of murdered journalists from Veracruz are left at the state’s government building in Mexico City in February 2016. Veracruz is one of the most dangerous regions in the Western hemisphere for journalists. (Reuters/Edgard Garrido)