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ANOTHER JOURNALIST KILLED; GOVERNMENT NOT DOING ENOUGH TO PROTECT MEDIA, SAY IFEX MEMBERS

Jean Paul Ibarra Ramírez, a crime photographer for the local daily "El Correo", and crime reporter Yenny Yuliana Marchán Arroyo of the daily "Diario 21", were sent by their papers to cover a road accident in Iguala, Guerrero state on 13 February. But they didn't have a chance to file the story. According to the Center for Journalist and Public Ethics (CEPET), Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and other IFEX members, they were attacked by gunmen as they travelled to the scene. Ibarra was killed, while Marchán suffered serious injuries.

Although a motive has yet to be established, the attack is typical of the climate of extreme violence that prevails in certain regions of the country, especially since President Felipe Calderón launched a major offensive against drug trafficking in 2006, says RSF.

According to ARTICLE 19 and RSF, since 2000, at least 29 journalists have been killed in Mexico in the line of duty and a further eight remain missing. Total or partial impunity has prevailed in all of these cases. "As long as all the murders of journalists continue to go unpunished in Mexico, journalists will continue to fall victim to this bloodshed," says RSF.

The Office of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Journalists (FEADP) was established in 2006 to address these killings and aggressions against the media. But FEADP has achieved little, says ARTICLE 19, which coincidentally released "Empty Words", an in-depth analysis of FEADP on the same day of Ibarra's death.

"None of the crimes against journalists have been solved. This can largely be attributed to a lack of political will, and the poor capacities of the FEADP to investigate," says ARTICLE 19.

"Empty Words" points to the need for comprehensive reform, and makes a host of recommendations, including changing the remit of FEADP so that it is not limited to protect freedom of the press but that it recognises the right to freedom of expression as a whole. It also recommends making FEADP legally competent, in part by incorporating FEADP into the formal legal structure of the more effective Attorney General's office.

The report is a follow up to ARTICLE 19's submission to the Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review of Mexico last week in Geneva, in which a number of delegations voiced the need for the government to take more concrete measures "that have some impact on the ground."

Recommendations included legislation that makes crimes against free expression a federal offence (rather than the state's responsibility), a plan touted by President Calderón and being considered by Congress. Although there has been much talk about it, a law has yet to be passed.

To read ARTICLE 19's submission see: http://tinyurl.com/brusko

Also visit these links:
- ARTICLE 19 summary of "Empty Words": http://tinyurl.com/aehfg4
- CEPET: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/100874/
- RSF: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=30319
- Inter American Press Association: http://tinyurl.com/d2mbaz
- Committee to Protect Journalists: http://tinyurl.com/bk8ja8
- IFEX Mexico page: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/97/
(18 February 2009)

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