Journalist Abducted in Sinaloa State Found Dead
PEN International is dismayed to learn that journalist Humberto Millán Salazar, who was abducted in Culiacán, Sinaloa state on August 24, 2011, was found dead the next day. Millán was editor of the online newspaper A-Discusión and presenter for Radio Fórmula. It has been suggested that the crime may be linked to his criticism of local politicians. His murder brings the number of print journalists killed in Mexico this year to seven. PEN calls on the federal and state authorities to investigate this Millán’s murder as a matter of the utmost urgency, and to bring the culprits to justice.
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 August 24, 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. The kidnapping reportedly took place in a matter of seconds, suggesting it had been meticulously planned.
Following a search operation by the Sinaloa state authorities, Millán’s body was found in a field outside Culiacán on August 25, 2011, according to the state attorney general. He had been shot in the head. The state attorney general, the National Human Rights Commission, and the State Human Rights Commission are all said to be investigating.
Some of the most powerful drug groups operate in Sinaloa state, including the Sinaloa cartel. However, local journalists told the Committee to Protect Journalists that they doubted that the Sinaloa cartel had carried out the killing as Millán wrote exclusively about party politics. A lawyer colleague of Millán’s, Bersahí Osuna, has said he believes that the journalist was abducted as a result of his criticism of local politicians, notably the current and former state governors.
Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to work as a journalist. Since January 2004, 41 print journalists and two writers have been murdered, while 10 print journalists have gone missing in the same period. Nine of the killings and three of the disappearances occurred in 2010 alone; the toll for 2011 to date stands at seven and one respectively. Few if any of these crimes have been properly investigated or punished. PEN believes it is likely that many of these writers were targeted in retaliation for their critical reporting, particularly on drug trafficking. While organized 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 June 3, 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 (also available in Spanish and French).
Write A Letter
- Protesting the murder in Sinaloa state of journalist Humberto Millán Salazar, who was abducted on July 24, 2011, and whose body was found the next day;
- Calling for a full and impartial investigation into the killing, focusing on Millán’s journalistic work as a possible motive, with the involvement of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Freedom of Expression, as well as into all other unsolved journalist killings and disappearances in Mexico;
- Calling on the government of President Felipe Calderón to fulfill promises to make crimes against journalists a federal offense by amending the constitution so that federal authorities have the power to investigate, prosecute, and punish such crimes.
Send Your Letter 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: [email protected]
Salutation: Señor Presidente/ Dear Mr President
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: [email protected]
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: [email protected]
Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Mexico in your country if possible.
Please send appeals immediately. Contact PEN if sending appeals after October 25, 2011: ftw [at] pen.org