Mexico: Journalist abducted in Sinaloa state; fears for safety

English PEN is alarmed by the abduction of Humberto Millán Salazar, editor of the online newspaper A-Discusión and presenter for Radio Fórmula, in Culiacán, Sinaloa state, on 24 August 2011. It has been suggested that the kidnapping may be linked to his criticism of local politicians. Such abductions frequently end in murder; six print journalists have been killed in Mexico this year alone. We are therefore calling on the state and federal and state authorities to do everything in their power to find Millán and bring him to safety, and to punish those responsible.

A veteran journalist with over 30 years’ experience of political reporting, Humberto Millán Salazar (53) was abducted near his home in Culiacán, capital of Sinaloa state, on the morning of 24 August 2011. He was reportedly on his way to present the news at Radio Fórmula when he was intercepted by masked armed men who forced him into a car. His brother was with him at the time but was released uninjured.

According to an article published on A-Discusión, the kidnapping took place in a matter of seconds, suggesting it had been meticulously planned. A lawyer colleague of Millán’s, Bersahí Osuna, has said he believes that the journalist has been abducted as a result of his criticism of local politicians, notably the current and former state governors.

The Sinaloa state authorities have launched a search operation and the state attorney general has begun an investigation into the abduction. An investigation has also been opened by the National Human Rights Commission in conjunction with the State Human Rights Commission. Millan’s family has reportedly requested assistance from the recently established journalists’ protection mechanism.

The last journalist to be abducted in Mexico, Notiver journalist Yolanda Ordaz de la Cruz from Veracruz state, was found dead two days later, on 26 July 2011.

Background

Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to work as a journalist. Since January 2004, 40 print journalists and two writers have been murdered, while 11 print journalists have gone missing in the same period (including Millán). Nine of the killings and three of the disappearances occurred in 2010 alone; the toll for 2011 to date stands at six and one respectively. Few if any of these crimes have been properly investigated or punished. PEN believes that it is likely that many of these writers were targeted in retaliation for their critical reporting, particularly on drug trafficking. While organised crime groups are responsible for many attacks, state agents, especially government officials and the police, are reportedly the main perpetrators of violence against journalists, and complicit in its continuance.

On 3 June 2011, PEN Canada, in collaboration with the International Human Rights Program at the Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, published a timely and provocative report on the situation in Mexico: Corruption, Impunity, Silence: The War on Mexico’s Journalists (also available in Spanish). The same day Canada’s national newspaper The Globe and Mail published an op-ed by John Ralston Saul, President of PEN International, on the report.

Useful links

– Reporters Without Borders (25 August 2011): English, Spanish
– BBC: English (25 August 2011), Spanish (24 August 2011)
– Periodistas en Espanol (25 August 2011): Spanish

TAKE ACTION:

Please send appeals:

– Protesting the abduction of Humberto Millán Salazar, editor of the online newspaper A-Discusión and presenter for Radio Fórmula, in Culiacán, Sinaloa state, on 24 August 2011;
– Calling on the state and federal and state authorities to do everything in their power to find Millán, and to bring him to safety, working on the assumption that his kidnapping is related to his journalism and therefore involving the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Freedom of Expression;
– Also calling on the authorities to ensure that those responsible for the abduction are promptly brought to justice.

Appeals to:

Lic. Felipe De Jesús Calderón Hinojosa
Presidente de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos
Residencia Oficial de los Pinos Casa Miguel Alemán
Col. San Miguel Chapultepec, C.P. 11850, DISTRITO FEDERAL, México
Fax: ( 52 55) 5093 4901/ 5277 2376
Email: felipe.calderon@presidencia.gob.mx
Salutation: Señor Presidente/ Dear Mr President

Attorney General
Lic. Marisela Morales Ibáñez
Procuradora General de la República
Av. Paseo de Reforma No. 211-213, Piso 16
Col. Cuauhtémoc, Defegacion Cuauhtémoc
México D.F. C.P. 06500
Tel: 52 55 5346 0108
Fax: 52 55 53 46 0908 (if a voice answers, ask “tono de fax, por favor”)
E-mail: ofproc@pgr.gob.mx
Salutation: Señora Procuradora General/Dear Attorney General

Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Freedom of Expression
Dr Gustavo Salas Chávez
Fiscal Especial para la Atención de Delitos Cometidos contra Periodistas (FEADP)
Email: feadp@pgr.gob.mx

Please also send copies of your appeals to the Mexican Embassy in your country, asking for comments on your appeal:

His Excellency Mr Eduardo Medina-Mora
Embassy of Mexico
16 St George Street,
London
W1S 1FD
Fax: 4420 7495 4035
Email: emedinamora@sre.gob.mx

Twitter

Those of you on Twitter may also wish to send a message directly to the Mexican President – @FelipeCalderon.

Please do let us know if you send appeals and especially if you receive a response by emailing cat@englishpen.org. Thank you.

Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/wipcnews/mexicojournalistabductedinsinaloastatefearsforsafety/

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