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Report on disappeared journalist Alfredo Jiménez Mota inaugurates anti-impunity campaign

(IAPA/IFEX) - The following is a 31 March 2006 IAPA press release:

Mexican journalists aim blow at drug traffickers with publication of articles in Phoenix Project

Under the sponsorship of the Inter American Press Association the inaugural work, on the disappearance of journalist Alfredo Jiménez Mota, will be published on April 3

MIAMI, Florida (March 31, 2006) - The first results of the Phoenix Project, made up of a group of journalists from various news media in Mexico and sponsored by the Inter American Press Association (IAPA), will be published on Monday in more than 100 newspapers in an attempt to discover the whereabouts of missing journalist Alfredo Jiménez Mota.

The Phoenix Project is part of a commitment undertaken with the signing of the Declaration of Hermosillo on August 30, 2005 during a meeting of newspaper editors and publishers from Mexico's northern border region.

More than 100 newspapers in Mexico and a number of Spanish-language publications in the southern United States will be publishing the article, which reports on the disappearance of Jiménez Mota, a reporter for the Hermosillo, Sonora state, daily newspaper "El Imparcial", on April 2, of last year. He has not been seen since.

At the time of his disappearance, Jiménez Mota was engaged in reporting on drug traffickers and organized crime - the leading perpetrators of murders of journalists in Mexico's recent history. This issue, of considerable concern to IAPA, is raised in a document entitled "Tijuana Conclusions", drawn up following the "International Conference on Drug Trafficking: Journalists At Risk", held in August 2002 in the northern Mexico state of Baja California; in the "Nuevo Laredo Conclusions" emerging from the seminar "Drug Trafficking: Investigative Reporting and News Coverage" held this past January in Tamaulipas state; and in the book entitled "Map of Risks for Journalists," which documents violent acts against journalists and those responsible for them in Mexico, Brazil and Colombia.

In its initial phase, the Phoenix Project comprises eight investigative reporters working for Mexican newspapers, but the intention is to involve more journalists, including those from radio and television, in the near future to broaden coverage of the exposure of organized crime.

The chairman of IAPA's Impunity Committee, Enrique Santos Calderón, from the Bogotá, Colombia, newspaper "El Tiempo", declared that "we are confident that the joint publication of this initial report of the Phoenix Project, which the IAPA is sponsoring, will be the first step in a concerted battle against organized crime and that other enemy of the press, self-censorship."

Gonzalo Marroquín, editor of the Guatemala City, Guatemala, newspaper "Prensa Libre" and chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, added, "This event is a successful outcome of the commitment made by some 40 editors and publishers from the northern border region of Mexico when we met last year in Hermosillo, and to whom we pledged that the IAPA would support them in this battle to confront organized crime in the press in order to underscore the public's right to know."

The main role of the Phoenix Project is to investigate crimes against journalists and follow up the investigative reporting that the victims were carrying out at the time of their death or disappearance. The anti-violence campaign is open to the participation of other news media wishing to give their support by publishing the material, which can be downloaded from the IAPA website: http://www.impunidad.com.

The IAPA campaign to put an end to the impunity surrounding crimes against journalists, funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, consists of investigation, training of journalists and promotion of ads bringing the impunity to the public's attention, an initiative in which 340 publications and numerous radio stations throughout the Western Hemisphere are participating.

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