The United Nations has described 2017 as a "terrible year for the freedom of expression in Mexico," and is demanding that Mexican authorities stop the ongoing wave of unpunished violence in which journalist Gumaro Perez Aguilando was murdered last weekend.
"It is imperative to stop the impunity that characterizes the killings of journalists in Mexico," said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Jan Jarab in a statement on Wednesday.
The international organization condemned the brutal murder of 35-year-old Perez, who was shot multiple times by two gunmen on Sunday after leaving a Christmas party held at his son's school.
Perez, who worked as a freelance journalist and was in a protection program for members of the media, was gunned down "in the presence of children, mothers, parents and education personnel," said UN High Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein.
Perez maintained strong relations with several media outlets throughout Mexico, as well as the Acayucan mayor's office, and had already been assaulted numerous times in connection with his work during the course of 2012 and 2014, the UN confirmed.
The state prosecutor's immediate response to the murder was to question the victim's journalistic credentials. The official defended the state's position, saying that Perez's work regarding government social-media accounts and other online publications was published on his website and Facebook page rather than through any official media outlet.
"For all legal purposes, he was a journalist; we could say he was independent," said Jorge Morales, a representative of the Veracruz State Commission for Attention and Protection of Journalists.
Authorities believe the murder was related to organized crime and Perez, who had written extensively about security issues and drug trafficking, was most likely executed by a gang.
The UN-DH denounced impunity in Mexico, citing the murders of more than 100 members of the media since 2000 and issuing "a respectful call to the competent state and federal authorities to carry out an effective investigation without ruling out a line of investigation that takes into account the journalistic work."
Press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders said in a recent report that the spate of murders has made Mexico one of the world's most dangerous countries in which to be a journalist, along with Syria.