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Mexican reporter wins Mackler 'courageous journalism' award

A Mexican journalist who has probed government corruption and human rights abuses from the heart of the country's drug war has been named the recipient of the 2017 Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism, organizers said Tuesday.

The prize -- which is co-sponsored by Reporters Without Borders and Agence France-Presse -- was awarded to 29-year-old Marcos Vizcarra, who lives and works in Mexico's violent northwestern state of Sinaloa.

The state is the scene of a major power struggle for leadership of the Sinaloa cartel, following last year's capture of its leader Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman.

In his work for the newspaper Noroeste, Vizcarra has investigated cases of alleged torture committed by state officials, collusion with drug cartels and the disappearances of civilians.

Veteran crime reporter Javier Valdez, a longtime AFP contributor, was murdered in Sinaloa in May -- shot a dozen times in broad daylight outside the offices of weekly newspaper Riodoce.

"Marcos Vizcarra is a rising voice for unrestricted access to truth in a part of the world known for frequent use of violence to silence journalists," said Camille Mackler, the Peter MacklerAward's project director.

"In today's world, more than ever, we need journalists like Mr Vizcarra, who are willing to stand up to governments and criminals and uphold principles of ethical journalism."

Vizcarra said he was honored to receive the award, noting: "This is a recognition of Mexican journalism that is seeking to improve things."

Michele Leridon, global news director for Agence France-Presse, said the news agency was "thrilled" with the choice to honor Vizcarra.

"In Mexico, where an AFP journalist was murdered earlier this year, the job to keep others informed is particularly difficult," Leridon said.

Delphine Halgand, the North America director for Reporters without Borders, said by honoring Vizcarra, "we pay tribute to the courage of those who refuse to be silenced in Mexico, where at least four journalists were murdered in connection with their work in 2017."

The award, named for the late Agence France-Presse journalist Peter Mackler, will be presented at a ceremony at the National Press Club in Washington on October 26.

The prize was created in 2008 to honor the memory of Mackler, who died of a heart attack that year at the age of 58.