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Owner of "La Noticia" newspaper in Michoacán kidnapped and found dead

(ARTICLE 19/CENCOS/IFEX) - The following is a 10 October 2008 joint press release by CENCOS and ARTICLE 19:

The owner of La Noticia newspaper in Michoacán kidnapped and found dead

On the night of October 9, in the port city of Lázaro Cárdenas in the western state of Michoacán, the owner of La Noticia Newspaper was kidnapped and his body later found in La Unión municipality, in the neighboring state of Guerrero to the southeast.

According to information provided by local sources, the agent of the Ministerio Público in charge of the initial investigation confirmed that the body found was that of Miguel Ángel Villagómez. He also stated that the body had six gunshot wounds in the back and a single shot in the head. At this time the authors of the crime remain unknown.

The body of Mr. Villagómez has been taken to the coastal city of Zihuatanejo, in the state of Guerrero, where the investigation will continue.

ARTICLE 19 and CENCOS express their solidarity with the family members and colleagues of Miguel Ángel Villagómez, and second the energic request to the Mexican State to effectively investigate and prosecute the authors of the crime. This is the latest of a string of similar attacks on and assassinations of journalists and communicators in the last twelve months in Mexico, and demonstrates the precarious and alarming climate in which they are doing their job in the country; it is of vital importance that no more cases add-up to this chain of impunity. The State must act and put and end to this situation, as well as implement preventive measures.

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. Furthermore, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has said that this general obligation imposes itself not only before the State, but in relation to any acts committed by third parties. Whether the perpetrators are organized crime, drug lords or any other group acting unlawfully or even lawfully, the State is the one responsible for safeguarding communicators within its jurisdiction.

The current insecurity all across México does not justify the aggressions against journalists all across the country. The free-flow of ideas as well as the collective right to have clear and prompt information constitutes an essential condition to guarantee the safety of everyone.

ARTICLE 19 and CENCOS call on the international community to share their solidarity with all journalists and society as a whole, in light of the difficult period of insecurity and impunity in Mexico.

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