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State government rejects national human rights commission's call for investigation into assault on journalists

(CEPET/IFEX) - The following is a statement from CEPET, an interim member of IFEX:

Human rights commission dismayed by indifference of Chihuahua government

Mexico, 24 September 2007 - The National Commission for Human Rights (Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos, CNDH) is dismayed that the Chihuahua government has decided to reject its recommendation 33/2007. In this recommendation, the Commission called on the government of this northern state to take action on the case of three journalists who were assaulted by police officers. The officers, aided by other individuals, also damaged the journalists' cameras and fired upon their vehicles. The incident took place on 5 September 2006 in Ciudad Juárez.

The CNDH has stated that, in neglecting to investigate the incident, the state government is denying protection to the victims of this assault and is thereby indirectly sanctioning the violation of their fundamental rights.

"This is a very bad signal to those journalists who dare to report on the improper behaviour of public officials," the Commission stated in a press release.

The Commission further pointed out that, in rejecting the recommendation, the government is demonstrating a lack of commitment to defending journalists from attack, and is putting at risk freedom of expression and the right to information by indirectly encouraging such attacks.

The CNDH expressed its concern and surprise at the government's decision, above all because the Commission clearly found that the police officers had violated the rights of journalists Eugenia Cícero Rivera and Aurelio Suárez Núñez, both reporters with the evening newspaper "PM", and Jaime Murrieta Briones, a photojournalist with "El Diario".

The Commission added that it is of utmost importance that all of the country's authorities contribute to the creation of conditions conducive to the free flow of information, especially now that freedom of expression is so threatened in Mexico, with journalists so frequently the target of violence.

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