Journalists Condemn “Indifference” To Crisis of Media Safety After Editor is Shot Dead in Mexico

The International Federation of Journalists today condemned a culture of “indifference and ignorance” over safety of journalists, following the tragic death of a prominent editor in Tijuana.

Yesterday, Francisco Ortiz Franco, a managing editor of the weekly newspaper Zeta, was shot dead by unidentified assailants in broad daylight as he left a physical therapy session with his two sons in downtown Tijuana. Ortiz had been renowned for his investigative reporting on government corruption and drug trafficking.

“Francisco was gunned down simply because he continued to expose the corruption, scandal and horrifying reality of Mexico’s criminal underworld,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “He is the latest victim of culture of indifference and ignorance within the country to the dangers facing journalists who dare to challenge the criminal and undemocratic forces in society.”

The newspaper's co-founder Hector Felix Miranda was ambushed and killed April 20, 1988. Two men were convicted in the shooting. In 1997, the newspaper's publisher, Jesus Blancornelas, was badly wounded in a gangland-style attack that killed his bodyguard and driver. “There is a pattern of violence which should have led to more effective protection being provided,” said White. “Tragically, it appears that this never happened.”

The IFJ says that the Government of Mexico must respond rapidly to this latest attack. Ortiz was part of a review of the Felix Miranda case by the Mexican government. Investigations have asserted that a prominent Tijuana politician and racetrack owner Jorge Hank Rhon was involved in the 1988 ambush. However, in 16 years regardless of these investigations, the perpetrator has never been brought to justice

This latest killing puts a new spotlight on the Mexican government’s response to attacks on media professionals. The IFJ says the Mexican authorities have failed to investigate the killing of Roberto Javier Mora Garcia, an editor for the newspaper, El Mañana on March 19 this year.

At least 62 journalists and media staff have now been killed across the globe since the beginning of this year, with 10 killed in Latin America alone. “This is one of the worst years on record for the killing of journalists,” said White. “And it is just getting worse and worse.”

The media safety crisis led last year to the establishment of the International News Safety Institute, an industry-led initiative, which aims to do more to reduce the risks to reporters and news teams, and particularly to freelances who are among the most vulnerable,” said White. “Now the message must be driven home to governments that they, too, must do more to bring the killers to justice.”

Further information: + 32 2 235 22 07
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries

Contact: International News Safety Institute (INSI): + 32 2 235 2201
Email: Sarah De Jong