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ARTICLE 19 reports on the "ineffectiveness" of the Office of the Special Prosecutor of Crimes Against Journalists

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - The following is a 16 February 2009 ARTICLE 19 press release:

Mexico: ARTICLE 19 Reports on the Ineffectiveness of the Office of the Special Prosecutor of Crimes Against Journalists

Mexico City: ARTICLE 19 launched on 13 February 2009 an in-depth analysis of the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Journalists (FEADP) entitled Empty Words: the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Journalists, the report is the product of a year of research and analysis of the workings and deficiencies of the institution. 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.

During the first review of Mexico by the Human Rights Council, a number of delegations raised concerns about the FEADP - the body currently dealing with the increasingly violent situation of freedom of expression in the State. Various delegations highlighted the need to strengthen the FEADP so that it can effectively investigate the aggressions and assassinations of journalists and media workers.

Since 2000, 29 journalists have been killed in Mexico and a further eight remain missing. Many more have been subjected to threats and physical aggressions. Mexico is considered one of the most dangerous countries to practice journalism in Latin America.

The FEADP was established in 2006 to address these killings and aggressions. To date, the institution has achieved little, and 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. "Under the FEADP's mandate, the scope of prosecution and protection are limited and ambiguous. Failure to address these issues is not only allowing impunity to prevail, but in fact promoting it" said Darío Ramirez, Director of ARTICLE 19 in Mexico and Central America. The impunity for such crimes in Mexico is the greatest threat, not only to freedom of expression, but to human rights as a whole.

ARTICLE 19's report points to the need for comprehensive reform and makes the following recommendations for the strengthening of the FEADP and clarification of its capacities, all of which require political resolve to be implemented:

1. To change the remit of FEADP so that it is not limited to protect freedom of the press but that it also recognises and protects the right to freedom of expression as a whole
2. To ensure the federal government is legally competent to investigate and sanction crimes against freedom of expression
3. To incorporate FEADP into the formal legal structure of the General Attorney's Office, thereby making it directly accountable to them
4. To work to ensure that FEADP is meeting its obligations in the area of transparency and accountability. It must also ensure that public interest information related to the institution is proactively disclosed
5. To undertake to train employees of FEADP to better care for victims and cater to their needs
6. To explore the possibilities of taking advantage of the recent reform of the justice system to better protect the right to freedom of expression

The Mexican Government admitted in Geneva earlier this week that freedom of expression is one of the major human rights issues currently on the agenda in Mexico. In accordance with concerns expressed by the international community, ARTICLE19 calls on the Mexican State to take on board these recommendations in order to strengthen freedom of expression in the country and fight the culture of impunity that has been allowed to develop.

For further information on ARTICLE 19's submission to the Universal Periodic Review, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/100722

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