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Sinaloa university authorities introduce restrictive measures after being criticised by professor

(ARTICLE 19/CENCOS/IFEX) - Mexico City, 21 April 2009 - Professor Ana Luz Ruelas Monjardín, who has been teaching at the Sinaloa Autonomous University (Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa, UAS), in northern Mexico, for 30 years, was censored by the university's rector. Ruelas Monjardín, who is well-known internationally, teaches at the university's International and Political Studies department.

On 2 April 2009, she published an article in the local paper "Noroeste" criticising a university council decision to combine 20 preparatory schools with the UAS, when the university is facing financial difficulties.

In the article, entitled "¿Quo Vadis, UAS?" ( http://www.noroeste.com.mx/publicaciones.php?id=463435&id_seccion=13&fecha=2009-04-02) Ruelas Monjardín questioned the role the university has been playing as regards prep schools in the state, ignoring the authority of the Public Education Secretariat and the Sinaloa state government in the matter. The UAS authorities were not pleased with the professor's article, especially on the heels of an upcoming university rector election.

The same day the article was published, the University Council issued a decree granting the UAS the authority to censor those affiliated with the institution and prevent them from criticising its actions.

A newly formed committee has the right to punish professors and students who use freedom of expression as a defense to "damage" the university by "defamatory comments, insults and lies". The measure contradicts international freedom of expression standards, such as Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Ruelas Monjardín filed a complaint with the Sinaloa State Human Rights Commission (Comisión Estatal de Derechos Humanos de Sinaloa - CEDH Sinaloa). A call from the CEDH urging the university to respect the professor's right to freedom of expression ( http://www.cedhsinaloa.org.mx/COM_SOCIAL/2009/10.html ), has been ignored by the UAS which argued that the CEDH has no jurisdiction over its affairs.

ARTICLE 19 and CENCOS expressed concern over the UAS's decision to reject the CEDH recommendation. The organisations called on Rector Héctor Melesio Cuén Ojeda and the UAS University Council to adopt measures such that Ruelas Monjardín can express herself freely and the Sinaloan people can freely receive information and opinions on matters of public interest.

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