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Recent assault on journalist another in a series of unsolved cases of attacks on media personnel in Nayarit state

(ARTICLE 19/CENCOS/IFEX) - ARTICLE 19 and CENCOS condemn the recent attack on Luis Guardado Negrete, sub-director of the "Noticias de Bahía" regional newspaper. They also express their concern about the general climate of impunity that prevails in cases involving violations of the right to free expression in the Bahía de Banderas municipality of Nayarit state, in western Mexico.

In 2007, reporter Patricia Aguilar, of the "Express" newspaper, was assaulted by a public official while carrying out her work, and in January of 2008 Juan Manuel Cervantes, a freelance reporter who contributes to a number of media outlets, was beaten by several individuals after publishing a story about problematic relationships between local authorities and restaurant owners. The recent case of the "Noticias de Bahía" sub-director, who was assaulted on 22 June, can now be added to these incidents. Guardado Negrete was attacked by two individuals after publishing an article accusing one of his two assailants of sexual assault. All of these cases demonstrate the hostile climate in which media outlets are obliged to work in Bahía de Banderas.

According to information gathered in interviews conducted by ARTICLE 19 and CENCOS with several media outlets in Bahía de Banderas, the authorities have failed to fully investigate these attacks on media personnel, which clearly limit freedom of expression.

In a telephone interview, Aguilar said: "We feel threatened and restricted in our ability to keep the public informed . . . There is a lack of sensitivity on the part of the authorities to our work . . . If we are killed, they don't care."

This situation, and the lack of progress in investigations into attacks on media personnel, could be interpreted to reflect a lack of political will to fulfill the state's commitments to defend human rights and to ensure that violations such as these do not go unpunished.

It is important to note that Principle 9 of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression states that: "The murder, kidnapping, intimidation of and/or threats to social communicators, as well as the material destruction of communications media, violate the fundamental rights of individuals and strongly restrict freedom of expression. It is the duty of the state to prevent and investigate such occurrences, to punish their perpetrators and to ensure that victims receive due compensation."

ARTICLE 19 and CENCOS express their solidarity with the journalists who have been assaulted while carrying out their work, and call upon state authorities to investigate and punish those responsible for the attacks. The two organisations also respectfully call upon Nayarit's governor, Ney González Sanchez, to fulfill Mexico's international commitments with respect to human rights and to implement the necessary measures to ensure the safety of journalists working in the municipality of Bahía de Banderas.

Updates the Guardado Negrete case: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/94773

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