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SUPREME COURT RULES AGAINST JOURNALIST LYDIA CACHO

IFEX members have condemned the Mexican Supreme Court's decision on 29 November that a local governor did not violate the rights of a journalist who had exposed a paedophile ring when he had her jailed on defamation charges.

The judges ruled that there was not sufficient evidence to demonstrate ill intent when freelance journalist Lydia Cacho was arrested and held in December 2005 on the orders of Puebla state governor Mario Marín, despite evidence that he and other public officials had conspired to harass her.

"The court's decision is a defeat for Mexican journalists," Cacho said after the ruling. "The judges are sending a message to the country that cases of this kind will not even be brought before the courts."

IFEX members and press freedom advocates meeting in Mexico City last week to discuss ways to record and follow up on attacks on journalists and media outlets in the country, condemned the ruling. The state should be "guaranteeing the conditions needed for exercising freedom of expression," the members said. Instead, the ruling "provides an incentive to maintain the high incidence of impunity in the country."

The IFEX members were World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC), the National Center for Social Communication (Centro Nacional de Comunicación Social, CENCOS), the Foundation for Press Freedom (Fundación para la Libertad de Prensa, FLIP), ARTICLE 19 and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Cacho wrote the book "The Demons of Eden" in 2004, in which she accused Mexican governors, public employees and businessmen - including a businessman from Puebla - of participating in a paedophile ring in Cancún. She has endured harassment and numerous death threats because of her work.

In December 2005, Cacho was arrested without explanation at her home in Cancún by Puebla state police and driven 900 miles to Puebla, where she was jailed briefly on defamation charges and released on bail. She says she was verbally abused during the ride. The defamation charges against her were later dropped.

An audiotape was later given to the news media of a conversation between Governor Marín and the local businessman congratulating each other for Cacho's arrest and referring to her in derogatory terms. But the court decided to exclude the recording as evidence, since it came from an unknown source.

Visit these links:
- IFEX joint action: http://tinyurl.com/326vte
- Mexico meeting: http://cencos.org/es/node/17390
- Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on Supreme Court ruling: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=24607
- Lydia Cacho blog: http://www.lydiacacho.net/
- IFEX alerts on Mexico: http://tinyurl.com/388ljq
(4 December 2007)

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