Mexican authorities failed to protect journalist murdered in Quintana Roo

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on Mexican President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador to prioritize the protection of journalists after Rubén Pat, a local news website editor in Playa del Carmen, in the southeastern state of Quintana Roo, became the second journalist to be murdered in Mexico in the space of two weeks. His murder follows that of magazine editor Luis Pérez García in Mexico City on 9 July.

Rubén Pat had sought protection after receiving threats but had been granted very limited protective measures. The editor of the online weekly Semanario Playa News, he was shot six times in a café this morning, less than a month after the weekly’s crime reporter, José Guadalupe Chan Dzib, was himself the victim of an execution-style murder in a bar.

After receiving threats via WhatsApp in May, Pat had requested urgent protection from the Federal Mechanism for Protecting Journalists, but had been given just a GPS and a panic button.

When RSF contacted Pat after Chan’s murder, he complained about the inadequacy of these protective measures and reported that the threats were continuing. RSF then contacted the Federal Mechanism and requested urgent reinforcement of Pat’s protection. The request went unanswered.

Pat was arrested arbitrarily, threatened and tortured by members of the local police in the nearby municipality of Solidaridad in June 2017, a few days after revealing information about links between local officials and criminal gangs.

“The Mexican authorities must draw the inevitable conclusion from this terrible event, namely that the Federal Mechanism for Protecting  Journalists failed in its duty to protect Rubén Pat although his situation of vulnerability had been known for a long time,” said Emmanuel Colombié, the head of RSF’s Latin America desk.

“We fully support the staff of Semanario Playa News and we call on the authorities to lose no time in identifying the perpetrators and instigators of this execution-style killing.”

Two journalists murdered in two weeks

The Mexico City attorney-general’s office announced just yesterday that magazine editor Luis Pérez García, 79, was murdered, and did not die from asphyxiation in a fire in his Mexico City home, as was originally assumed when firemen, summoned by neighbours, found his body on 9 July.

Officials now believe that intruders struck Pérez on the back of the head before setting fire to his apartment in order to conceal the fact that he had been murdered.

RSF urges investigators not to minimize the possibility that Pérez was killed in connection with his journalism, and calls on the authorities to ensure that those responsible for this cowardly murder are identified and brought to justice as quickly as possible. Pérez had edited the magazine Encuesta de Hoy for more than 30 years and was a member of the Mexican Association of Radio Hosts (ANLM).

Pérez and Pat are the seventh and eighth journalists to be murdered this year in Mexico. They follow Héctor González Antonio, Juan Carlos Huerta, Leobardo Vázquez Atzin, Carlos Domínguez Rodríguez, José Guadalupe Chan Dzib and Pamela Montenegro.

Last month, on the eve of Mexico’s elections, RSF called on the next president to lose no time in reining in this spiral of violence. These latest murders have only reinforced the urgency of the need to protect journalists in Mexico, which is ranked 147th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index.

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Updated on 25.07.2018