The Mexican authorities must investigate the murder of journalist Norma Sarabia in Tabasco State on 11 June 2019, as a matter of utmost urgency, ensuring that any possible links between her death and her journalistic work are thoroughly scrutinised. At least six journalists have been killed in Mexico this year, bringing the total number of journalists killed to over 100 since 2000.
‘The murder of Sarabia is yet more evidence that the authorities have failed to ensure the freedoms of journalists under its care. The murders of two journalists under the protection of the Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders and Journalists exposes the urgent need to properly resource the Mechanism to ensure that it can fulfil its mandate,’ said Carles Torner, Executive Director of PEN International.
Norma Sarabia had worked for the newspaper Tabasco Hoy for the last 15 years and had covered the police and security beat for various local media outlets. Her colleagues describe her as a journalist activist and a popular figure in the beat that she covered. She was also a primary education teacher. Sarabia was shot dead by two armed men outside her home in Huimanguillo, Tabasco state, on 11 June 2019.
According to media reports, the Tabasco State Attorney General has ordered protection measures for Sarabia’s family members and proceedings were initiated before the Federal Attorney General to comply with the protocol for the protection of journalists.
Media outlet Pie de Página stated that Sarabia covered general news from the municipality, ‘however, as is common in states like Tabasco, crime is the topic in most demand for correspondents, who are “the weakest link in state daily newspapers”’.
PEN urgently calls on the Mexican authorities to investigate the crime, including any possible link to her work as a journalist, and to bring the perpetrators to justice. In addition, PEN urges the federal authorities to furnish the Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders and Journalists with greater resources, in light of the fact that at least two of the journalists killed this year were under its protection, evidence of the lack of resources to provide meaningful protection to journalists and human rights defenders.