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ARTICLE 19 welcomes international condemnation of dangers facing journalists in Mexico

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - The following is an 11 February 2009 ARTICLE 19 press release:

ARTICLE 19 Welcomes the Human Rights Council's Criticisms of Mexico's Handling of the Aggressions and Assassinations of Journalists

On the occasion of the Human Rights Council's examination of Mexico as part of the Universal Periodic Review, ARTICLE 19 welcomes the international condemnation of the dangers facing journalists in the country.

The Mexican government, through the Minister of the Interior, Fernando Gómez Mont, listed the following achievements of the Federal Government in their efforts to address issues preventing the exercise of freedom of expression, including freedom of the press, in the country.
1. Decriminalisation of defamation at the federal level.
2. Attorney General's Office initiative to "federalize" responses to crimes against journalists.
3. Security measures against organized criminal gangs, who according to the government are the principal perpetrators of crimes against journalists.

Delegations present at the HRC's session pointed out repeatedly that the Mexican government needed to take more concrete measures to eliminate impunity in cases of aggressions against journalists and in particular that it should strengthen the body responsible for prosecuting such crimes, namely the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Attention to Crimes against Journalists (FEADP). The delegations also recommended that Mexico thoroughly investigate the aggressions and assassinations that are currently taking place, create programmes to effectively prevent such crimes, and work towards ensuring a federal level response (as opposed to state level) to crimes against freedom of expression as a whole.

ARTICLE19 urges the Mexican government to accept and comply with the HRC recommendations on freedom of expression and other vital human rights issues.

In particular, ARTICLE 19 calls on the Mexican government to:
1. Harmonize local legislation with the federal reform on the decriminalisation of defamation. At the moment, defamation remains a criminal offence in 22 states. The gap between the federal reform and state-level law and legal practices must be addressed immediately and effectively;
2. Immediately create a programme of protection and prevention of aggressions against journalists.

Finally, ARTICLE 19 urges the Congress of the Union to federalize crimes against freedom of expression as a whole and without delay, in order to effectively combat corruption and impunity.

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