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Megamedia Group employees threatened, attacked in Campeche

(ARTICLE 19/CENCOS/IFEX) Mexico City, 24 April 2009 - Personnel from the Megamedia publishing group which publishes the "Diario de Yucatán" newspaper in the city of Campeche, in southeast Mexico, have been threatened on several occasions by individuals identified as being connected to the National Action Party (Partido Acción Nacional, PAN). This is believed to be the result of Megamedia's refusal to publish election publicity to promote PAN candidates.

Recently, Megamadia personnel have reported to authorities a series of attacks, including attempts by PAN supporters to run them over with their cars.

The main targets of these attacks have been distribution employees, those from the credit and billing department and those working at Megamedia's largest facilities Campeche, located in the Mega Comercial on Avenida Central.

In an interview with CENCOS and ARTICLE 19, Julio César Silva, the editorial director of Megamedia said:

"Because we refused to publish anything for the PAN in Campeche and Ciudad del Carmen, they have launched a series of attacks against us. The governor and the state district attorney know what is going on; we are hoping they keep track of the situation because the company has not thought it necessary yet to file an official report with the police. Up to now they have offered to keep a patrol car outside our offices, but we have had to take other measures because of the recurrence of these attacks. We decided that none of our employees should wear the Megamedia uniform. We thought that this would confuse the attackers because they will not know who enters and leaves the facilities, or who we are. This anonymity has worked so far, but we hope there will be no more cases of intimidation."

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights' declaration of principles on freedom of expression, which Mexico has signed, says in sections 1 and 9 that: "Freedom of expression in all its forms and manifestations is a fundamental and inalienable right of all individuals. Additionally, it is an indispensable requirement for the very existence of a democratic society" and "The murder, kidnapping, intimidation of and/or threats to social communicators, as well as the material destruction of communications media violate the fundamental rights of individuals and strongly restrict freedom of expression. It is the duty of the state to prevent and investigate such occurrences, to punish their perpetrators and to ensure that victims receive due compensation."

ARTICLE 19 and CENCOS call on government authorities in the state of Campeche to keep in mind their international obligations with respect to human rights and to conduct the necessary investigations to ensure a safe working environment for the Megamedia journalists.

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