Last year's mass disappearance has turned into the biggest crisis of President Enrique Pena Nieto's administration and caused his approval rating to dip
Mexico City (AFP) - Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto pledged Wednesday to beef up the protection of reporters and human rights advocates after the brutal murder of a prominent photojournalist and an activist.
In his first public comments on the July 31 killings, which shocked the country and drew international calls for justice, Pena Nieto said he had instructed the interior ministry to "continue strengthening the protection mechanism for human rights activists and journalists."
The "protection mechanism" is a program tasked with safeguarding more than 400 journalists and activists in Mexico, one of the most dangerous countries in the world for both.
The government has come under increasing pressure to address the problem since photojournalist Ruben Espinosa, rights activist Nadia Vera and three other victims were found dead on July 31 in a Mexico City apartment, their hands bound and their bodies bearing signs of torture.
Delivering the opening speech at a national prosecutors' conference, Pena Nieto said he had "no doubt" that investigators were "committed to redoubling their efforts" to solve the case.
Since 2000, 89 journalists have been killed and 17 have disappeared in Mexico, according to Reporters Without Borders.
Pena Nieto did not give details on what improvements would be made to the protection program, which has been sharply criticized as ineffective.
This week nearly 500 prominent writers, artists and intellectuals voiced their "indignation" over the country's failure to protect journalists who report on drug violence and corruption.
The group included Britain's Salman Rushdie, American Paul Auster and Canada's Margaret Atwood.