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IFEX MEMBERS AND PARTNERS STEP UP PRESS FREEDOM CAMPAIGNING

In Mexico, now the second most dangerous country in the world for journalists after Iraq, press freedom advocates and journalists have teamed up to fight against free expression violations and restrictions in the country.

At a workshop in late August, the leading Mexican organisations working on free expression, including IFEX members and affiliates, explored ways to combine efforts to have a bigger impact in campaigning and alerts as well as influencing changes on regressive press laws. Some ideas of joint projects included: better investigations at a federal level of crimes against journalists; comprehensive and regular info on Mexico's free expression situation; and joint missions, public meetings and press conferences on a particular case or region to draw attention to the continuing climate of violence.

The meeting is unprecedented, say the participants. The workshop drew together a dozen national and international organisations who sough new ways to collaborate on press freedom issues. "As far as I can remember, an initiative of this dimension has not happened before," said one of the conference's participants, Omar Raúl Martínez, director of Fundación Manuel Buendía. "We have many issues to solve but this effort deserves recognition because it marks a precedent on working for press freedom."

The director of the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) in Mexico, Aleida Calleja, said: "This meeting addressed a much wider perspective than just alerts and campaigns. We already have some ongoing projects together and can draw concrete and wider support from this."

The IFEX members and affiliates included Mexican groups the Centre for Journalism and Pubic Ethics (Centro de Periodismo y Etica Publica, CEPET) and the National Centre for Social Communication (Centro Nacional de Comunicación Social, CENCOS), as well as AMARC, ARTICLE 19, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Institute of Press and Society (Instituto Prensa y Sociedad, IPYS) and Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF).

Fundación Manuel Buendía, Libertad de Información - México (LIMAC), Fundación Prensa y Democracia (PRENDE), Comunicación e Información de la Mujer, A.C. (CIMAC) and the Universidad IberoAmericana's Human Rights Programme were also involved.

The organisations made a commitment to work together and three committees emerged from the workshop to follow up on campaigns, alerts and press laws, coordinated by ARTICLE 19, CPJ and AMARC respectively.

A second meeting will be held in a month. For more information, email Leonarda Reyes, CEPET director, at: leonare@cepet.org

Meanwhile, three reporters were killed when a truck involved in a crash exploded on 9 September, reports CEPET. Reporters David Herrera from the daily "Zócalo", Carlos Antonio Ballesteros from "El Tiempo" and Andrés Ramírez from the daily "La Prensa" were killed during a highway explosion south of Monclova. They had arrived at the scene to cover a collision between a car and a truck carrying more than 20 tons of dynamite when the truck unexpectedly exploded. At least 22 people, including the four journalists, were killed.

(With files from Leonarda Reyes, CEPET)

(11 September 2007)

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