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VETERAN CRIME REPORTER SHOT DEAD IN CIUDAD JUÁREZ

A crime reporter was shot to death outside his home last week in the border city of Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, report the Center for Journalism and Public Ethics (CEPET), the Committee to Protect Journalists and other IFEX members.

José Armando Rodríguez Carreón, a well-known and respected reporter who covered crime for more than a decade for the local daily "El Diario", was shot at least eight times in a company-owned car parked inside his garage on 13 November, reports CPJ. His young daughter, who was in the car at the time of the attack, was uninjured.

A motive for the killing has not yet been established, but CPJ reports that Rodríguez's colleagues feel he was targeted for his work. Pedro Torres, deputy editor of "El Diario", said Rodríguez had received a threatening text message in February telling him to "tone it down." As a result, he was transferred to El Paso, Texas temporarily for his safety, says Reporters Without Borders (RSF), but on his return he insisted on resuming work without any special protection.

In a joint statement, the National Center for Social Communication (CENCOS), ARTICLE 19-Mexico, the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) and other local rights organisations said the murder of a journalist is "the most extreme form of censorship, which not only restricts the right to free expression of the victim but also the right of society as a whole to learn."

Torres said in a television interview that the murder would not silence the paper. "The worst thing we could do as journalists, as a company, is to keep quiet. I think that the authorities are doing nothing. We have a commitment beyond that which the authorities have with the public. We must continue to cover all these events as they are, not as many people would like them to be."

IFEX members working in Mexico say it's time for the government to get involved. "The state has an obligation to prevent, investigate and punish the perpetrators, as well as to ensure adequate reparation to victims," they said.

Because of the poor record of successful prosecutions, the Mexican Congress is considering legislation that would make crimes against free expression a federal offence, a step backed by President Felipe Calderón. A law has yet to be passed.

More than 1,000 people, including journalists, police officers, doctors, lawyers and drug traffickers, have been killed in drug-related crimes in Ciudad Juárez this year, say IFEX members. On 6 November, unidentified individuals left a decapitated head at the city's Journalists' Square. Police have not identified it.

Powerful drug cartels and escalating violence associated with criminal groups have made Mexico one of the deadliest countries for reporters worldwide. According to International PEN's Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC), Rodríguez is the eighth writer to be killed in Mexico in 2008.

Visit these links:
- CPJ: http://tinyurl.com/6ke3tb
- CEPET: http://tinyurl.com/6bblec
- IFEX members in Mexico statement: http://tinyurl.com/6kwhq6
- RSF: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=29293
- WiPC: http://tinyurl.com/66mz7g
- International Federation of Journalists: http://tinyurl.com/5hhrct
(19 November 2008)

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