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Human rights media agency raided, documents stolen

(ARTICLE 19/CENCOS/IFEX) - During the weekend of 26-27 July 2008, unidentified individuals broke into the offices of CIMAC (Comunicación e Información de la Mujer), a Mexico City-based non-govermental organisation that reports on women's issues through the "Cimacnoticias" news agency. The assailants stole some of the organisation's equipment and destroyed a number of documents.

CIMAC editor Carolina Velázquez explained in an interview that CIMAC staff became aware of the incident when they arrived at the office on the morning of 28 July and found that the locks had been broken. The organisation is missing some of its computers, tape recorders, a scanner and other equipment that contained important information. The intruders had meticulously gone over director Lucía Lagunes's office and the administrative office, looking for money and destroying some of the agency's documentation.

On 28 July, CIMAC filed a complaint with the Federal District's Public Prosecutor's Office over the incident.

CIMAC has been working for the rights of women and freedom of expression since 1988. Its "Cimac Noticias" newsletter focuses on human rights and the inclusion and advancement of women in Mexico and Latin America. It plays a key role in highlighting themes that are not always linked to human rights and ensuring that these are covered by the major mainstream media outlets. CIMAC has a network of correspondents who cover issues throughout Mexico and is allied with other news agencies in the country and around the world such as DDN, APRO, Prensa Latina, OEM-Informex, Cerigua and ASIC.

ARTICLE 19 and CENCOS called for a prompt investigation to determine the motive for the break-in and to identify those responsible. They noted that Principle 9 of the Inter-American Declaration on Principles on Freedom of Expression states that "the material destruction of communications media violate the fundamental rights of individuals and strongly restrict freedom of expression".

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