Journalist receiving protection gunned down in northwestern Mexico
Last weekend’s murder of a local online newspaper editor receiving police protection in northwestern Mexico must be the subject of an exhaustive investigation focused on the links to his work, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said. Jorge Miguel Armenta Ávalos was the third journalist to be killed in Mexico this year.
The founder and editor of Medios Obson El Tiempo, Jorge Miguel Armenta Ávalos, 44, was gunned down by four men armed with rifles on 16 May as he emerged from a restaurant in Ciudad Obregón, in Sonora state, where he had just lunched with three municipal security agents, one of whom was also killed and a second was wounded in the hail of bullets.
The police bodyguards who were supposed to be protecting him were not with him at the time.
Armenta was receiving state protection. He had been incorporated into the federal programme for the protection of human rights defenders and journalists since 2016 because he was being threatened. According to the information obtained by RSF, his protection was stepped up after a risk evaluation by the programme in 2019.
Other journalists working for Medios Obson El Tiempo have recently been threatened and are currently receiving protection. This local online daily often covers organized crime in Sonora, which is one of Mexico’s major drug trafficking hubs.
“We urge the authorities to investigate Jorge Armenta’s murder exhaustively and to step up protection for Medios Obson’s other journalists,” said Emmanuel Colombié, the head of RSF’s Latin America bureau. “The fact that a journalist under state protection was murdered in broad daylight shows the scale of violence against the media. The federal government must demonstrate a real political will to end this carnage and combat impunity, which is also a scourge in Mexico.”
The probability of this murder’s instigators ever being brought to trial are extremely low, as the rate of impunity for crimes of violence against journalists in Mexico is more than 90%.
The other two journalists murdered this year in Mexico are María Elena Ferral Hernández, gunned down on 30 March in the eastern state Veracruz, and Víctor Fernando Álvarez Chávez, the victim of an execution-style murder after disappearing in the southwestern state of Guerrero on 1 April. Ten journalists were killed in Mexico in 2019, as many as in Syria, a country at war.
Mexico is ranked 143rd out of 180 countries and territories in RSF's 2020 World Press Freedom Index.