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ARTICLE 19 welcomes UN Human Rights Committee Periodic Report

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - 29 March 2010 - ARTICLE 19 welcomes the United Nations Human Rights Committee's fifth periodic report and its reflection of ARTICLE 19's concerns regarding the deterioration of freedom of expression in Mexico.

The Committee issued several recommendations to the Government of Mexico pertaining to its general human rights record, during its 98th session held from 8-26 March. With specific regard to the right to freedom of expression, the Committee recommends that Mexico:

- Establishes immediate and effective measures to protect journalists and human rights defenders whose lives and safety are at risk, including approving a Bill on crimes committed against freedom of expression exercised through the practice of journalism;
- Ensures immediate, effective and impartial investigations into threats, violent attacks and murders of journalists and human rights defenders, and ensures that those responsible are brought to justice;
- Provides the Committee with detailed information on all criminal proceedings dealing with threats, violent attacks and murders of journalists and human rights defenders in its next periodic report; and
- Fully decriminalises defamation laws throughout the country.

ARTICLE 19 was one of 10 organisations that made a Submission to the Committee on 10 July 2009. After reviewing the Mexican Government's State Report and its subsequent response to the list of issues raised by the Committee, ARTICLE 19 presented further written comments which were taken into consideration during this recent fifth periodic review of Mexico. ARTICLE 19 sought to clarify the Government's lack of precise and comprehensive information, and highlighted Mexico's failure to comply with its obligations, including:

- Violence against journalists and human rights defenders
Despite the clear pattern of violence, Mexico does not have a proper legal framework to prevent, investigate and punish such crimes. There is an urgent need to reform current legislation and combat impunity. The state authorities must also adopt special policies of prevention, particularly as, according to a recent ARTICLE 19 report, Between Violence and Indifference, 65.5 per cent of violence is committed by state actors.

- Defamation
Despite a declaration by federal officials, defamation has not been fully de-criminalised in Mexico. Seventeen out of 32 states continue to carry out sentences of up to four years for anyone convicted of defamation.

ARTICLE 19 welcomes the Committee's concluding observations on Mexico. The support and assistance of the international community is fundamental for the Mexican State in reverting the existing dangers for free expression in the country. It is of the utmost importance that Mexico fully collaborates with the Committee by implementing their recommendations and opens itself to international scrutiny by providing clear, detailed and reliable information.

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The Government of Mexico presented its report to the Human Rights Committee in compliance with Article 40 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), in September 2008. Article 40 establishes that States Parties to the Covenant must submit reports on the measures they have adopted to give effect to the rights recognised by the ICCPR.

Click here for ARTICLE 19's Submission to the Mexico Country Report Task Force of the Human Rights Committee
Click here for the Committee Concluding observations
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