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TV CORRESPONDENT GUNNED DOWN AMID WAVE OF KILLINGS

Press groups worldwide are demanding justice for a TV correspondent who was gunned down in southern Mexico on 6 April in an apparent premeditated hit. His murder added to a flurry of killings across the country that left 14 dead in a 24-hour period.

Amado Ramírez, correspondent of the news programme "Al Tanto" on the privately owned TV station Televisa in Acapulco, was shot three times from behind as he left work, says Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF). "Al Tanto" was taken off the air on 9 April after the station received death threats.

Ramírez's assailants remain unidentified. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and others are investigating whether his murder is directly connected to his professional work.

Ramírez had covered Acapulco for Televisa for more than a dozen years. In March, he aired a special investigation into the murder of local police officers, linking the crime to local drug traffickers. The resort town has been ridden with drug-related violence in recent years.

CPJ and RSF are demanding that the federal government take on the case, and create a legal framework to protect journalists under threat. Homicides in Mexico are normally handled by state detectives.

"Ramírez's death must be taken seriously by the authorities," RSF said. "There must be a major effort to establish the circumstances of this journalist's execution-style killing and to identify those responsible. And the case must be handled at the federal level."

Though the battle between drug cartels is particularly severe in northern states, violence has spread to almost every Mexican state in the last year, says CPJ. The Attorney General's office has recorded 678 organised crime-related murders in 2007 alone, according to press reports. Within 24 hours of Ramírez's death, 13 other people were murdered.

The CPJ and Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) have reported an alarming number of journalists slain in Mexico on orders from drug gangs, with seven journalists killed since October, two disappeared and eight reporting death threats.

"I would say Mexico has become the country (in the Western Hemisphere) where it's most dangerous to be a journalist today," Gonzalo Marroquin, president of the IAPA's press freedom commission, said last month.

Visit these links:
- RSF on Ramírez: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=21629
- CPJ letter to Mexican President: http://tinyurl.com/27jz8u
- IAPA: www.sipiapa.org
- ARTICLE 19 alert: http://tinyurl.com/2tsfaw
- OAS Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression: http://www.cidh.org/relatoria/showarticle.asp?artID=693&lID=1
- Associated Press story on Ramírez: http://tinyurl.com/27c8z5
(10 April 2007)

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