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In new report, CPJ points to spike in disappearances of journalists

(CPJ/IFEX) - The following is a 30 September 2008 CPJ press release:

The Disappeared
A CPJ special report: Reporters are vanishing in Mexico. Who can be trusted to investigate?

New York, September 30, 2008 - Mexico's criminal gangs have a long history of silencing the press by brazenly gunning down investigative reporters in broad daylight on city streets. But in a new report, "The Disappeared," the Committee to Protect Journalists has found that enemies of the press are using a new tactic - making reporters disappear.

Seven Mexican reporters have vanished since 2005, a tally nearly unprecedented worldwide in 27 years of documentation by CPJ. Mexico is already one of the world's deadliest nations for journalists, with 21 killed since 2000, at least seven in direct reprisal for their work. But the spike in disappearances suggests a significant shift in the dangers facing the Mexican press.

In the report released today, CPJ examines the possible involvement of local police and public officials in this rash of disappearances. CPJ found that at least five of the missing reporters had investigated links between local government officials and organized crime in the weeks before they vanished. Alfredo Jiménez Mota, for example, a 240-pound one-time boxer, was an aggressive and ambitious reporter who exposed crime rings and the public officials he said were linked to them. Jiménez headed out one evening to meet a "nervous source" and never returned.

All seven of the disappearances remain unresolved today and without any apparent leads. Because missing-person cases are generally considered state crimes handled by local police, only one of the disappearances is being investigated by federal authorities in Mexico City. CPJ has called on Mexico to federalize crimes against the press.

The disappearances have led to self-censorship among Mexico's crime reporters. One reporter acknowledged that he once liked the crime beat because it put him in the "middle of the action." Now, he said, he stands back and watches as organized crime in Tabasco goes unreported.

The report is available online and will appear in the coming edition of CPJ's magazine Dangerous Assignments.

CPJ is a New York-based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide. For more information, visit http://www.cpj.org

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