Mexico - Call for "exemplary punishment" for police hounding of the media



    MONTREAL, July 17 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders today
condemned the aggressive posture of some police officers, particularly at the
federal level, after assaults on journalists on the same day both in the
Federal District (Mexico City) and in the state of Sinaloa in the north-west.
    Around 30 police officers with the Federal Preventative Police (PPP)
threatened Rafael Leyva Mexia and Luis Vasquez Vega, photographers
respectively on the regional dailies El Diario de Los Mochis and Noroeste in
Los Mochis in Sinaloa state on 15 July, after they took shots of a police
convoy just after it left the scene of a demonstration.
    They pointed guns at the journalists whom they accused of being from the
"gutter press" before photographing them while heaping insults on them. Other
journalists who arrived later where also aggressively questioned and had to
take flight.
    Leyva Mexia and Vasquez Vega both made complaints to the Sinaloa state
human rights commission. One of the two photographers told Reporters Without
Borders that, in the light of a similar case involving journalists from the
regional daily El Debate in May, they might also take the case before the
federal justice ministry.
    In the second case, judicial police travelling in five vehicles
intercepted Jacobo Velasquez Gordillo, journalist on the privately-owned
national channel TV Azteca and technical staff in the capital at 2am on the
same day as they were returning to their studios. They were forced at gunpoint
to produce their identify papers. Police then seized their mobile phones and
their camera battery on the pretext that they had tried to interfere with an
investigation. Police officers rained blows onto Velasquez Gordillo as they
tried to force him into the boot of his car.
    The journalists made a complaint for "abuse of authority" at the special
prosecutor's office responsible for civil servants. The Federal District Human
Rights Commission has also made a complaint which it is waiting for the
journalists to sign.
    "This abusive behaviour leaves the press even more vulnerable at a time
when it is already exposed to threats from organised crime, particularly in
the states like Sinaloa which are in thrall to the drug cartels", the
worldwide press freedom organisation said.
    "The safety of Mexican journalists is more under threat than ever and
this situation can only worsen still further if the authorities decide for
reasons of state to close the cases lodged by the victims. There should be
exemplary punishment", the organisation added.




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, Executive Director,
Reporters Without Borders Canada, (514) 521-4111, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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