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Military personnel prevent journalists from carrying out their work in Sinaloa

(ARTICLE 19/CENCOS/IFEX) - On 8 August 2009, in the municipality of Jesús María, in Sinaloa state, northern Mexico, military personnel belonging to the Culiacán-Navolato-Guamúchil operative assaulted reporters from several media outlets, including the dailies "Noreste" and "El Debate". The reporters were attempting to cover an incident in which soldiers apparently beat a group of youths.

The soldiers seem to have been bothered by that fact that the reporters began to photograph and film three of the youths who had various bruises as a result of the beating they had suffered. The military personnel pushed the reporters around and snatched their cameras. At the same time, three Bell 212 helicopters flew directly above them, at a height of less than three metres from their heads.

Eduardo Valdéz Verde, the president of the 7th of June Journalists' Association (Asociación de Periodistas y Comunicadores 7 de junio) said that this was not the first time such an incident had taken place in Sinaloa. As such, an open letter was sent to the commander of the Ninth Military Base and copied to the national and state human rights commissions. Leonel Aguirre Meza, the head of the state human rights commission, condemned the actions against the journalists by way of an open letter.

ARTICLE 19 and CENCOS call on the Mexican government, and the National Defence Secretariat in particular, to implement the necessary measures to ensure that freedom of expression is respected, especially since the obstruction of the general populations' right to information represents a direct threat to the consolidation of democracy. The two organisations also call on the National Human Rights Commission to follow up on the journalists' complaint in a timely manner in order to avoid more of these types of incidents.

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