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Four IFEX members express their position regarding the National Human Rights Commission's recommendation on crimes against journalists

(CENCOS/IFEX) - Mexico City, 19 August 2009 - In reaction to the National Human Rights Commission's (Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos, CNDH) General Recommendation Number 17, a group of freedom of expression organisations, including four IFEX members, have stated that it is necessary to create a clear mechanism for carrying out this recommendation.

In the face of a wave of attacks against freedom of expression in Mexico, the CNDH has released a general recommendation, which is based on article 102, section B of the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States. This type of recommendation is aimed at a variety of authorities "with the objective of promoting the modification of regulations and administrative practices that constitute and bring about human rights violations".

Recommendation 17 on the rights of journalists and the impunity that exists in cases of attacks against journalists was sent to the governors of all the Mexican states, the head of the Mexico City government and the Federal Attorney General (Procurador General de la República, PGR). In the recommendation, the CNDH makes it clear that it considers every attack on journalists to be a direct attack on the rule of law and that the inaction of the authorities results in impunity and encourages those who use violence to protect their own interests.

In its analysis, the CNDH warns that the authorities have delayed and failed to properly carry out investigations and that there is a general propensity to prematurely discount the motive for attacks against journalists as having to do with their professional work.

The freedom of expression organisations stated that, while the CNDH's recommendation raises central issues such as impunity and the lack of access to justice in the large majority of cases of murdered and missing journalists, it is urgent to establish effective and powerful actions to be adopted by the various state bodies, particularly those responsible for procuring justice, rather than political bodies such as the National Conference of Governors (Conferencia Nacional de Gobernadores, CONAGO), which is mentioned in the recommendation.

In this sense, the freedom of expression organisations noted that they consider it of utmost importance that the executive branch implement the necessary actions to create a Committee for the Protection of Journalists and make the necessary changes so that the Special Prosecutor's Office for Crimes Against Journalists (Fiscalía Especial de Delitos en Contra de Periodistas) can function effectively. The organisations also noted the need for the legislature to approve the initiative to federalise crimes against free expression and for the judicial branch to conduct the necessary investigations and ensure transparency in the cases that are already under its consideration. The judiciary and the executive and legislative branches are obliged to undertake effective and concrete actions to guarantee the exercise and enjoyment of freedom of expression.

Centro Nacional de Comunicación Social
Center for Journalism and Public Ethics
World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters - AMARC

Fundación Manuel Buendía

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