Mexico's president calls for more protection of journalists

Media rights groups and citizens protest to demand the Mexican government catch the killers of Javier Valdez the fifth and most high-profile journalist murdered this year in the country's drug-trafficking ganglands in front of the Interior Ministry

Media rights groups and citizens protest to demand the Mexican government catch the killers of Javier Valdez the fifth and most high-profile journalist murdered this year in the country's drug-trafficking ganglands in front of the Interior Ministry

In Mexico City on Tuesday, protesters wrote "They are killing us" and "No to silence" - a phrase used by Mr Valdez - on the road next to the iconic Monument to Independence on the main thoroughfare, Paseo de la Reforma.

Valdez received a number of national and worldwide awards including the 2011 Press Freedom Award by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

President Enrique Pena Nieto condemned what he called an "outrageous crime".

"Murderous impunity", ran the headline of an editorial in La Jornada, the national daily for which Valdez worked as Sinaloa correspondent. The former is a look at the relationship between journalism and organized crime, and the latter chronicles the lives of young people swept up in Mexico's criminal underworld. He also authored several books on the drug trade in Mexico. He vowed to defend press freedom, "fundamental for our democracy".

The front pages of major newspapers and journalists demonstrating in the center of the capital carried pictures of Javier Valdez, 50, who was shot dead in broad daylight on Monday in northwestern Sinaloa state.

On Saturday, seven journalists were assaulted and robbed by a mob of about 100 armed men on a highway in the troubled southern state of Guerrero. Experts say Guzman's arrest past year and extradition in January have led to upheaval in the area as rival factions war for control of the gang.

Valdez was due to be cremated at 2300 GMT on Tuesday, his family said.

The other four journalists killed this year were also targeted while out and about.

Press rights group Articulo 19 said that was the first time Pena Nieto had reacted publicly to one of the recent wave of journalists' killings, which they consider a sign of rising pressure on the president.

"Rapid and transparent investigations are necessary to bring the perpetrators of all these crimes to justice", the European Union said in a statement that demanded Mexico see the "end of impunity in cases of crimes against journalists and activists".

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) said in an email that more must be done to protect reporters in Mexico. It added that even when there are convictions, they are often limited to the immediate killer and do not clarify the motive. The CPJ reported that, in the weeks before his murder, Valdez told the CPJ that he was concerned for his safety.

Numerous media and human rights organisations including Amnesty International have called for an impartial investigation. "That is the federal government's fault".

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