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IAPA releases three reports on crimes against journalists

(IAPA/IFEX) - The following is an 11 December 2008 IAPA press release:

IAPA presents new findings on crimes against journalists, impunity

Miami (December 11, 2008) - Investigations into the lynching of a journalist in Bolivia, the murder by drug traffickers of a newspaper editor in Michoacán, Mexico, that resulted in profound self-censorship, and efforts by the Brazilian justice system to put an end to impunity in crimes against the press are the subjects of special reports that the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) has posted on its Web site http://www.impunidad.com as part of its project to combat violence against freedom of expression.

In recognition of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights' 60th anniversary, the IAPA saluted its Article 19 on freedom of expression by launching three reports of work carried out by Rapid Response Unit (RRU) investigative reporters under the Anti-Impunity Project. The Anti-Impunity Project is funded by the Miami-based John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

IAPA President Enrique Santos Calderón, editor of the Bogotá, Colombia, newspaper El Tiempo, invited publications throughout the Americas to print the investigations, "which show us that by highlighting specific cases and by acting together and shedding light on these issues, we can advance in the battle against the violence that menaces freedom of the press and free speech, and against the impunity that surrounds crimes committed against journalists."

The chairman of the IAPA's Impunity Committee, Juan Francisco Ealy Ortiz, president of the Mexico City newspaper El Universal, declared, "As long as violence is unleashed against journalists and news media to manipulate and stem freedom of expression and press freedom, we have a duty to continue our patient, united and unswerving battle against terror and impunity."

The report titled "Summary execution", written by RRU journalist Jorge Elias from the Southern Cone of Latin America, describes the brutal beating of Bolivian radio reporter Carlos Quispe Quispe that led to his death two days later, on March 29, 2008. It also traces the course that the official investigation has taken, being transferred five times in six months from one public prosecutor to another, and shows how weak the local justice system is. The victim's family's frustrated lawyer admits he "does what he can" and complains that he is alone in his attempts to speed up the inquiries ( http://www.impunidad.com/index.php?showreporte=110&pub=260&idioma=us ).

In Mexico, the RRU's María Idalia Gómez points in her report to self-censorship as "the only weapon left to fight fear after a journalist has been murdered" and gives details surrounding the October 9, 2008 murder of Miguel Angel Villagomez Valle, owner and editor of the newspaper La Noticias de Michoacán. The murder, believed to have been committed by drug traffickers behind a wave of violence that is lashing the state of Michoacán, has led the region's most widely read and trusted newspaper to no longer cover organized crime. The victim's family and colleagues fear reprisals ( http://www.impunidad.com/index.php?showreporte=111&pub=261&idioma=us ).

"Brazil: A country of contrasts that manages to punish those guilty of crimes against journalists. Why here and nowhere else?", written by the RRU's Clarinha Glock, examines, through interviews with public prosecutors, judges and human rights specialists over the last six months, the possible reasons for a higher number of court-ordered convictions in that country where, in the last eight years, a total of 33 defendants charged in 22 cases of murder of journalists were found guilty and sentenced, far surpassing the number of convictions in similar cases in Colombia and Mexico
( http://www.impunidad.com/index.php?columnas=9&idioma=us ).

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