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CEPET concerned over spate of attacks on journalists in Oaxaca State

(CEPET/IFEX) - Rebeca Luna Jiménez, a correspondent for the Radio Mil group, was attacked by unidentified individuals on the night of 6 April 2009. The incident took place on a busy street when the journalist was travelling with her husband and a friend in the city of Oaxaca, in Oaxaca State, southern Mexico.

The journalist, who covers political and public security issues, said that she had received threats several times over the last four years. She was most recently threatened in September 2008, when an unidentified individual called her mobile phone three times and said that he was going to kill her and her children. "He called me from a telephone booth and said 'We are going to kill you and your children . . . Stop publishing stories . . . You will receive news from us soon.' I had to send my children to Mexico City for fear that they would do something to them," Luna Jiménez said.

The journalist, who also works with several local media outlets, said that on 6 April 2009, she was traveling with her husband and a friend in a van when an individual on a motorcycle pulled up beside them and looked at them very closely. The motorcyclist then took off ahead of them. When they caught up to him 100 metres further down the street, he gave a signal and six other individuals approached their vehicle, taking advantage of the fact that traffic was moving very slowly, Luna Jiménez said. "They approached us without saying anything, just swearing. I was typing on my computer and immediately threw myself to the floor. They broke all of the vehicle's windows, grabbed my computer and left. There were police officers nearby, but they did nothing. We also did not receive assistance when we phoned emergency services for help," the journalist said.

Luna Jiménez noted that she is concerned because, on 7 April, the officer in charge of investigating robberies called and said he did not yet have the paperwork required to conduct an investigation into the attack. "The prosecutor told me that the investigation into the attack against me would be carried out promptly," Luna Jiménez said.

Several media outlets in Oaxaca have expressed concern over repeated attacks against journalists that have taken place in the state recently.

On 3 April, Federico Carrera Hernández, a correspondent for the "Noticias" newspapers, said in a press conference that, when he was returning from the municipality of Huatla, he was illegally detained, beaten and robbed of his belongings by municipal police officers from Teotitlán. The journalist is holding the mayor of Teotitlán, Amado Olmos Meza, responsible for the police officers' actions. He said that the mayor had instructed the officers to continue harassing him.

In a separate incident, on 5 April, journalist Jaime Méndez Pérez, the director the JP News Agency, was assaulted by members of a cooperative in the municipality of San José de Progreso where he was covering a co-op meeting.

CEPET calls on the Oaxaca authorities to conduct an in-depth investigation into the attack on Luna Jiménez. Likewise, the organisation urges the authorities to ensure that journalists in the state are able to carry out their work. CEPET views all attacks on journalists and media outlets as attacks on society as a whole since they jeopardise the right of citizens to receive information.

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