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Sinaloa state government approves initiative to classify threats and attacks on journalists as "serious crimes"; correspondent kidnapped for brief period

(CEPET/IFEX) - The Sinaloa state congress has approved an initiative to classify threats and attacks on journalists and media outlets as "serious crimes". The initiative was unanimously approved as an urgent measure taking into account the current state of insecurity in the northeastern Mexican state.

Sinaloa and its capital, Culiacán, have been the centre of bloodshed and confrontations linked to organised crime. On 17 November 2008, the "El Debate" newspaper suffered a grenade attack and, on the same day, a correspondent for TV Azteca, the second largest chain of television stations in Mexico, was kidnapped. He was released several hours later, reportedly because the kidnappers had made an error.

The Sinaloa congress considered the measure to be urgent and approved it unanimously, noting that media outlets play a key role in the social, political, economic and cultural aspects of the communities in which they operate. The congress also agreed to speed up the approval of another initiative, a law governing the work of journalists.

Rosario Ignacio Oropeza Cota, the editorial director of "El Debate", said that the congress' actions represented a significant move towards reducing attacks, but noted that the measures that are being put in place are insufficient considering the alarming levels of violence in Sinaloa. He called for a similar initiative to be approved at the federal level, which would allow for attacks on journalists and media outlets to be investigated by the federal police.

Sinaloa currently has a very high murder rate, with an average of five per day in November, according to local information sources.

CEPET welcomes the decision to treat attacks and threats against journalists as serious crimes. The organisation views attacks on journalists and media outlets to be equivalent to an attack on society as a whole since it jeopardises the right of citizens to be informed.

For further information on the grenade attack against "El Debate" newspaper, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/98600

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