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Mexico29 October 2008

Oaxaca-based reporter kidnapped and tortured for 12 hours

Reporters Without Borders is appalled by the abduction and mistreatment of reporter Pedro Matías Arrazola of the local daily Noticias de Oaxaca and the national weekly Proceso, who was beaten and psychologically tortured for about 12 hours on the night of 25 October in the southern city of Oaxaca before being dumped outside the city.

“The abduction of Matías was incredibly barbaric and, given that parliament is currently debating a bill to make attacks on journalists a federal crime, we call for the federal authorities to be immediately put in charge of the investigation,” Reporters Without Borders said.

“If this case were left unpunished as so many others have, especially in this region, there would be grounds for doubting the political will expressed at a high level to end Mexico’s tragic status as the western hemisphere’s most dangerous country for journalists,” the press freedom organisation added.

Matías was kidnapped as he left the newspaper to go home on the evening of 25 October. His abductors beat him and terrorised him for hours, simulating an execution, asking him how he preferred to die and variously threatening to drag him along the ground behind their car, cut off his genitals, rape him or behead him. They also threatened his family members, saying they had been “located.”

He was released the next morning some 30 km outside Oaxaca in Tlacolula de Matamoros, without his car and without his papers, which his abductors also took from him. Although psychologically traumatised, he quickly filed a complaint with the public prosecutor’s office.

As well as reporting for Noticias de Oaxaca and Proceso, Matías participates in broadcasts on a radio station, often criticising members of the Oaxaca state government who belong to the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the party that controlled the national government until 2000. Some of his close friends think it was this criticism that prompted the kidnapping.

Oaxaca state has become notorious for the serious violations of press freedom and human rights that have occurred there in recent years. Governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz and his supporters have been implicated in violence against Noticias de Oaxaca in 2005 and the murder of US journalist Brad Will in 2006.

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