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CJFE welcomes Canadian government critique, but calls for further action

(CJFE/IFEX) - Toronto, March 18, 2010 - Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) welcomes the attention of the Canadian government to the deplorable situation for journalists in Honduras, but asks our government to broaden their response to other countries of concern in the Americas, including Mexico and Colombia.

On March 17, 2010, Canadian Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas), Peter Kent condemned the recent murders of journalists in Honduras. Kent was presumably responding to the killing of Nahúm Palacios Artiaga, a Honduran TV news editor who was reportedly shot more than 20 times while driving on March 14. This murder brings to three the number of journalists killed in Honduras in March.

"We welcome the Canadian government's recognition that violence against journalists constitutes an attack on freedom of expression," says CJFE Board member and journalist Bob Carty. "But we are concerned that Canada failed to criticise wide-spread free expression violations last June during the Honduran coup, including an earlier attack on Nahúm Palacios Artiaga."

Carty also points out that this awareness must extend further. "These are not just isolated killings, but a sign of a more extensive problem that sees freedom of expression under attack in a number of countries in the Americas." Journalists in Mexico are being abducted and killed with impunity. In Colombia, journalists are illegally wiretapped and monitored by the government and other violations are also on the rise.

The effects of these attacks go far beyond the media though. When the media is muzzled or afraid to report, the ones who ultimately lose are the citizens who no longer have access to information. And, no democracy can function properly without freedom of expression.

After the abduction of two journalists from the Milenio media group in Reynosa, Mexico, a senior editor claimed "Journalism in Reynosa is dead. I have nothing more to say." It's a stark indication of a growing problem that cannot be ignored either by local governments or their neighbours and trading partners such as Canada.

CJFE calls on the governments of Honduras, Mexico and Colombia to end the culture of impunity in their countries by fully investigating and prosecuting all attacks on journalists. And CJFE calls on our own government to continue to make the right to free expression an integral and consistent component of their relations with other governments in the Americas and around the world.

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