Mexico - Call for a precise account of investigations into disappearances and murders of journalists



    MONTREAL, Oct. 31 /CNW Telbec/ -

    
    Mr Luis Martinez Fernandez del Ocampo
    Special Prosecutor for Crimes Committed Against Journalists
    General Prosecutor for the Republic, Mexico City

    Dear Mr Prosecutor,

    The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) meeting in
Washington on 18 July 2007, at the initiative of nine human rights and press
freedom organisations - including Reporters Without Borders - ended in a
strong commitment being given by attending representatives of the Mexican
federal government:

    - strengthening the rights of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes Committed
      against Journalists (Fiscalia Especial para la Atencisn de Delitos
      cometidos contra periodista - FEADP), which you have headed since
      February this year;
    - federal level handling of these types of cases;
    - regular reports to the IACHR on progress in ongoing investigations;
    - an association of organisations specialised in follow-up of
      investigations;
    Other commitments were made in relation to community and electronic
    media.

    There has certainly been progress towards freedom of expression as a
result of recent developments in federal legislation aimed at decriminalising
press offences. President Felipe Calderon's promise made in October to
"federalise" the handling of attacks against the media is a partial response
to the commitments made at the IACHR meeting.
    These efforts however cannot allow us to forget the scandal of impunity
surrounding the murders of 32 journalists and the disappearance of seven
others since 2000. Mexico ranked as the second most dangerous country in the
world for the press after Iraq in 2006, a year in which nine journalists were
killed.
    The investigation into the murder of Brad Will, a young cameraman on the
alternative news agency Indymedia, gunned down on 27 October 2007 during major
political and social unrest in Oaxaca, revealed dysfunction at various levels
of government. The journalist's family told Reporters Without Borders that the
federal justice system had simply endorsed the conclusions of the local
investigation in Oaxaca, that he had been killed at point blank range by
militants of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO), although
the hypothesis is not seriously backed up by any evidence or any witness. A
number of accounts rather point the finger at police and local officials.
    This case demonstrates the need for investigations to be taken over at the
federal level, far from political pressure from certain governors and their
aides. To this effect, the "federalisation" of criminal investigation of
attacks on the press should start as quickly as possible.
    Other cases of murders and disappearances illustrate the most basic
difficulty police and the courts have in striking at the heart of criminality:
At least half of the journalists killed were murdered for looking a little too
closely at the scourges of drug-trafficking, smuggling and corruption.
    These cases include: Alfredo Jiménez Mota, of the daily El Imparcial in
Hermosillo, who went missing on 2 April 2005; Razl Gibb Guerrero, editor of
the daily La Opinisn, killed on 8 April 2005 in Veracruz state, a case in
which the main suspect arrested, Martin Rojas, alleged leader of a
petrol-smuggling gang, has never gone on trial; Enrique Perea Quintanilla,
founder of investigative monthly Dos Caras, Una Verdad, found tortured and
murdered in Chihuahua state on 9 August 2006, a state whose government last
September rejected a recommendation from the National Human Rights Commission
(CNDH) after three journalists were assaulted.
    The year 2007 brought a fresh supply of tragedy to the ranks of the press.
To the murders of Amado Ramirez, of Televisa, in Acapulco on 6 April this year
and of Sazl Martinez Ortega, of the magazine Interdiario and the daily Cambio
de Sonora, on 23 April, must be added three disappearances in January and May,
Not one of these cases has been solved or brought to trial.
    On the eve of the Day of the Dead, Reporters Without Borders joins with
Mexicans to pay tribute to their journalists. In line with promises made
before the IACHR, the organisation looks to you for a precise account of the
progress of the on-going investigations and strong measures to put an end to
impunity.

    I trust you will give this request your careful attention.

    Yours sincerely,

    Robert Ménard
    Secretary General
    




For further information:

For further information: Emily Jacquard, secretary general, Reporters
Without Borders Canada, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4208, Fax: (514)
521-7771, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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