Sign up for weekly updates

Cameraman Francisco Bocanegra Herrera detained on mayor's orders, municipal authorities harass reporter Margil Guerra

(ARTICLE 19/CENCOS/IFEX) - The following is a 3 February 2009 ARTICLE 19 and CENCOS alert:

On 30 January 2009, Iván Macías Hinojosa, the mayor of Ciudad Mier, in Tamaulipas state, northeastern Mexico, ordered the arrest of Televisa television station cameraman Francisco Bocanegra Herrera. He also gave orders for reporter Margil Guerra to be "punished" after Guerra and Bocanegra Herrera publicised statements made by the mayor about "a technical work stoppage" at the Ciudad Mier city hall because of economic difficulties.

In an interview, the mayor acknowledged that the municipal treasury was in a difficult situation due to mismanagement. However, when the information was broadcast via the morning television news programme "Primero Noticias", which has a national reach, he retracted his statements and attempted to blame the journalists for publicising the information. As a result of the level of pressure and criticism that the information has unleashed on a national scale, the mayor apparently decided to take action against those responsible for publicising it.

Municipal police officers stopped Bocanegra Herrera on the streets of Ciudad Mier, arrested him and held him incommunicado for several hours. The chief of police in charge of arresting the cameraman said that he had done so based on a direct order from the mayor. Bocanegra Herrera spent the night in a cell without knowing why he had been detained. He was released in the morning.

The journalists' association in Tamaulipas said it intends to file a complaint regarding the mayor's actions with the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Journalists (Fiscalía Especial para la Atención de Delitos Cometidos contra Periodistas) and the National Human Rights Commission (Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos) in order to prevent other public officials from coming to the conclusion that it is easy to obstruct the work of journalists in Tamaulipas.

With respect to the actions against Guerra, he has been followed and verbally harassed by municipal authorities.

ARTICLE 19 and CENCOS call on the Ciudad Mier authorities to, in accordance with international human rights commitments, promote the right to freedom of expression and ensure that this right is respected. The two organisations also call on the authorities to explain why Bocanegra Herrera was detained and to punish those responsible for the harassment of Guerra.

Get more stories like this

Sign up for our newsletters and get the most important free expression news delivered to your inbox.