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Municipal government personnel harass journalist in Guerrero

(CENCOS/IFEX) - Gustavo Nava Jiménez, a correspondent for the "La Jornada Guerrero" newspaper in the municipality of Chilapa, Guerrero state, is being harassed and threatened by personnel from the municipal government headed by Mayor Sergio Dolores Flores.

Nava Jiménez's work as a journalist is being hindered as a result of the actions against him. The correspondent told CENCOS that he does not know the exact reason for the mayor's aggressive attitude towards him but that he feels constantly pressured and harassed. He said that he thinks the actions against him could be related to his critical journalistic stance or the fact that he has not entered into an agreement with the municipality regarding certain types of coverage. He added that he was recently thrown out of a municipal government event by guards who pushed and shoved him.

Nava Jiménez said that, on 7 June 2009, he received a death threat from Javier Meza, an official in the civil registry department, when he tried to cover an event and that, since then, he has not been allowed to cover events hosted by the municipal authorities. In contrast, other journalists whose media outlets have an agreement with the municipality are able to report freely.

Nava Jiménez noted that he filed a complaint that was accepted by the Guerrero Human Rights Commission but he does not know the current status of his case. Other individuals he named as having carried out actions against him include municipal attorney Pablo Vargas Hernández and municipal government director Manuel Pérez Reyes.

"For me, covering events results in violence and aggression, though in this state that is nothing new. There are many violations of freedom of expression perpetrated by the authorities," Nava Jiménez said.

Since 2007, twenty-three attacks on freedom of expression have been documented in the state. Public officials were behind 85% of the 20 cases that took place in 2008 and thus far in 2009. In 2009, three journalists have been killed in Guerrero.

CENCOS calls on the Chilapa municipal government to honour its obligation to protect freedom of expression even in instances where criticisms are aimed at government officials or politicians. The organisation also calls on the state government to implement all necessary measures to safeguard freedom of expression.

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