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Police officers suspended after assaulting journalists

(CEPET/IFEX) - Chihuahua municipal police officers Wenceslao Chávez González and Hugo Abraham Barriga Vega have been suspended from their duties for 21 days, without pay, after they were found to be responsible for assaulting and arbitrarily detaining "El Observador" newspaper reporters Filiberto Ortiz and Daniel García. The incident took place on 14 June 2009, when the reporters witnessed police officers assaulting residents of the Martín López neighbourhood.

Carlos Borruel Baquera, the mayor of Chihuahua, made an announcement regarding the punishment of the two officers as well as another officer, Arturo Hernández Sánchez, who was suspended for four weeks without pay after assaulting and issuing a death threat against "El Heraldo de Chihuahua" photographer Pablo Rodríguez on 20 May. Rodriguez had been covering police activities for his newspaper.

Borruel Baquera said the decision to punish the police officers was unrelated to any conclusions that might be reached by the national or state human rights commissions. He noted that if the human rights commissions come to the conclusion that the officers' actions warrant the application of more severe sanctions, their recommendations will be followed without hesitation.

Baquera also said that he met with the state's public safety secretary, Víctor Valencia, and that they had agreed to develop a protocol for how police officers should deal with the media. He added that he is looking to promote a culture of respect and collaboration between police and the media in order to avoid more incidents such as these.

The mayor dismissed the idea that instructions have been issued for actions against journalists and said he considers the recent attacks to be random acts by individuals who got carried away in the heat of the moment.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Related stories on ifex.org
  • Police officer assaults, threatens journalist in Chihuahua

    Pablo Rodríguez Aguilar, a photojournalist with the paper "El Heraldo de Chihuahua", reported that he was physically attacked and received a death threat from municipal police officer Arturo Hernández Sánchez while he was covering a police operation in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, in northern Mexico.



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