Reporters Without Borders calls on the federal justice and defence ministries to investigate a 4 June incident in the northern city of Ciudad Juárez in which soldiers beat several journalists including photographer José Luis González of El Diario, a regional newspaper that suffered a great deal in 2008. In a separate development, one of El Diario’s bureaux has just had to close because of threats believed to have come from a drug cartel.
“The need to combat drug trafficking does not justify army mistreatment of media personnel,” Reporters Without Borders said. “An El Diario journalist had to go into exile because of the methods used by certain soldiers deployed in Chihuahua state to combat the drug cartels. In appointing an investigation into the attack on González and his colleagues, the federal justice and defence ministries must demonstrate that journalists, who are already threatened by the cartels, have nothing to fear from the security forces.”
González, two TV cameramen and a photographer with the PM daily newspaper were assaulted by solders as they were filming and photographing the scene of a road accident in which four soldiers and a police patrol officer were injured. González was struck in the back, thrown to the ground, and beaten repeatedly with a rifle butt while one of the soldiers held him down with his boot.
The incident came just a week after work was suspended at the El Diario bureau in Parral as a result of death threats against the staff. Journalists told Reporters Without Borders that the threats were prompted by an article about the detention of seven presumed members of the Sinaloa cartel. It named Román Valenzuela, one of the lieutenants of cartel chief Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, who is currently on the run.
At the height of last year’s violence between the cartels, which left 1,600 dead in Chihuahua state alone, El Diario journalist Armando Rodríguez Carreón was murdered on 13 November, after seeking refuge in the United States. His murder remains unpunished. Other journalists went into exile at around this time.