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Proposed local law causes controversy over protection of journalists

(CEPET/IFEX) - 27 October 2008, Mexico. Representatives of the Colima state journalists' union in central Mexico consider that the proposed law on "Protection of Journalists", which was analysed in the local congress, could be set up as an element of censorship and control over news work.

The initiative, presented by the ruling party, PAN (Partido Acción Nacional), covers clauses on themes such as: free expression and information in the framework of a company's editorial definition; the conscience clause; source confidentiality; free and preferential access to information sources; freedom of creation and the rights of the author, as well as participation in editorial guidelines.

During a forum that took place on Friday 24 October in the local Colima congress boardroom, leaders of various organisations showed that the initiative presents deficiencies and contradictions in that it does not specify sanctions or offer sufficient support to workers, nor does it clearly stipulate what will be the relation between companies and the so-called communications councils, which are studying this law.

In line with the information published by "Agencia Proceso" (APRO), the majority of the 14 organisation representatives present at the forum showed the need to develop a new project that takes into account the approaches of different media workers.

In declarations to APRO, Juan Ramón Negrete Jiménez, a member of the Federation of Mexican Journalist Associations (Federación de Asociaciones de Periodistas Mexicanos, Fapermex), suggested that the idea of creating communication councils which are entrusted with the control and ethics regulation of media seems, instead, to be a way of "opening doors to external organisms foreign to journalism so that they can interfere in the internal life of the media".

The correspondent from the newspaper "La Jornada" thought it was positive that this initiative reinstates the conscience clause and source confidentiality, but emphasized that it fails to establish the amount of indemnity if a reporter demands settlement if they are not in agreement with a sudden change in the editorial policy and neither is it clear if source confidentiality is a right or a duty.

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