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Attempted murder of "right to know" activist at his home in Baja California

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - The following is a 28 November 2007 ARTICLE 19 press release:

Mexico: Armed group attacks the home of right to know activist

ARTICLE 19 strongly condemns the latest attack against access to information advocate Alberto Capella Ibarra and urges the Mexican authorities at the federal and state level to investigate the case promptly and to bring to justice those responsible.

Approximately 20 gunmen opened fire against Alberto Capella Ibarra, chairman of the Citizen Council on Public Security (Consejo Ciudadano de Seguridad Pública) of Baja California, at around 2:30 in the morning of November 27th.

The police responded approximately 30 minutes later, even though the house is located very close to the police station and the anti-kidnapping office of the Office of the Attorney General (Procuraduría de Justicia) of Baja California.

Some gunmen fired machine-guns at Mr. Capella's home, while others, with clubs, tried to knock down the gates and doors. They were repelled by Mr. Capella, who was alone in his house at the time. His family no longer lives in the city of Tijuana as a security measure. Before this assassination attempt, Mr. Capella had received several threats seeking to stop him from investigating police corruption and organized crime in the state.

"ARTICLE 19 expresses its full solidarity with Alberto Capella and his family, colleagues and our partner organization LIMAC" said Dr. Agnes Callamard, ARTICLE 19 Executive Director.

"The attack against Alberto Capella is the latest demonstration that human rights defenders are not safe to work in Mexico. This latest attack was horrendous, terrifying and well organized. Those defending the right to know and the right to speak are facing great risks in Mexico, in the midst of seeming indifference on the part of the authorities."

Mr. Capella has filed a formal complaint before the federal authorities, but he made it clear that he did not trust the state or local authorities, particularly in view of the delay taken by the police in responding to his call for help.

"The Mexican authorities must take all measures necessary to ensure the safety of Mr. Capella and all other human rights defenders and their families. The attack must be thoroughly and promptly investigated, including by federal-level authorities if required, and those responsible brought to justice. Impunity should not prevail yet again, but it is up to the Mexican government to demonstrate that they can act to ensure that safety and justice can be restored." added Dr. Callamard.

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Alberto Capella Ibarra is the President of the Public Security Citizen Council in the Tijuana, Baja California, a civil public body in charge of monitoring the state and local public security policy. He has worked extensively on access to information issues, particularly as they pertain to the security and police forces. Mr. Capella is also a member of LIMAC, an important partner of ARTICLE 19 in Mexico.

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