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Civil rights groups call on Mexican government to investigate crimes against freedom of expression

(ARTICLE 19/CENCOS/IFEX) - The following is a 21 October 2008 joint press release by ARTICLE 19, CENCOS and the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC):

México: Brad Will's murder just the tip of the iceberg in the alarming level of impunity in which cases of aggressions against journalists remain

More than two years after Bradley Roland Will's death, investigations remain in a legal limbo and the facts of the case remain unclear. The American journalist was killed on October 27, 2006, as he was covering a fight between demonstrators and security forces in Santa Lucía del Camino, Oaxaca, in southern Mexico. The National Human Rights Commission Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos, CNDH) has criticized the way in which Mexican authorities acted during the initial investigation, which only shows their opaque and inefficient work in this and many other cases of attacks against freedom of expression.

Independent media worker Brad Will played a central role in reporting on the social conflict in the state of Oaxaca during 2006. He was a key player, providing information from the frontlines. His murder has been of international relevance because his last video footage, including the moment he was shot, was broadcasted the world over on: . Even with the compelling evidence shown in the footage, Mexico's Attorney General Office and the Attorney General's Office of the State of Oaxaca have shown little effort to guarantee the right of access to justice for Brad Will's family.

On September the 26th the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH), in exercise of their constitutional right, issued a Recommendation (50/2008) in which they point out the omissions and irregularities which Mexican authorities (both at the local and federal level) incurred during the initial investigations. The Attorney General's Office has expressed that they do no accept the conclusions set forth by the CNDH and that they will not publicly answer accusations regarding their alleged omissions during the investigation. This is evidence of the state's lack of political will in addressing these violations of freedom of expression.

The impunity in which this case and many other cases where the right of freedom of expression has been breached has its root cause in the lack of interest from the Attorney General's Office in bringing those responsible to justice. All of this is in clear violation of the right to a fair trial (Art. 8) and the right of judicial protection (Art. 25) guaranteed in the American Convention on Human Rights, with inherent devastating effects for fully exercising the right of freedom of expression. Several other rights guaranteed in the Convention have also been breached, with the root cause being the general impunity in cases of violations to freedom of press and expression in Mexico, most notably:

- Right to life (Art. 4)
- Right to Humane Treatment (Art. 5)
- Right to personal liberty (Art. 7.1)
- Right to a fair trial (Art. 8)
- Right to judicial protection (Art. 25)
- Right to participate in government (Art. 23)

ARTICLE 19, the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC), the Mexican Association of Access to Information (Asociación Mexicana de Derecho a la Información , AMEDI), the National Center for Social Communication (CENCOS) , Communication and Information for Women (Comunicación e Información de la Mujer, CIMAC), Press and Democracy Foundation (la Fundación Prensa y Democracia, PRENDE) and the Manuel Buen Día Foundation welcome the recommendation issued by the National Human Rights Commission and demand the same diligence in the cases of the other 23 journalists murdered and 8 that have disappeared in the past 8 years. The International Mission on Attacks against Journalists denounced these cases, and showed that in only two of them (Amado Ramírez and Misael Tamayo), the CNDH issued a recommendation. Therefore, we strongly urge the CNDH to issue a special report on the status of all of the previous cases, in exercise of their constitutional mandate.

Updates the Will case:

Centro Nacional de Comunicación Social
World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters - AMARC

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