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Committee to protect press freedom dissolved; journalist slain

A special government committee designed to combat crimes against Mexican journalists and news media has been disbanded, reports the Inter American Press Association (IAPA). Underscoring the urgent need for such a panel is the murder of yet another journalist in Mexico on 2 November, report the Centre for Journalism and Public Ethics (CEPET) and other IFEX members.

In the past, the Congress used the Special Committee for Dealing with Attacks upon Journalists and News Media to raise awareness of violence against journalists and how this affected a citizen's right to know, says IAPA. It supported initiatives aimed at amending the Penal Code and making crimes against journalists a federal offense in order to strengthen press freedom, reports IAPA. But now all this work is being thrown aside.

Just this week, journalist José Bladimir Antuna García was found dead on 2 November after he was abducted, reports CEPET. Antuna García worked as a security specialist for the daily "El Tiempo de Durango". State prosecutors knew he was getting death threats but did nothing, report IFEX members.

According to CEPET, a note found on his body said: "This happened to me because I gave information to the military and wrote things that I should not have written. Be careful when preparing stories."

He was killed in Durango State, a stronghold for organised crime members who act with complete impunity, where journalists are especially under threat, say IFEX members. Antuna García survived an assassination attempt in April when shots were fired at his home and he continued to receive anonymous threats, reports CEPET. Many times the caller identified himself as a member of Los Zetas, a crime group.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 39 journalists, including Antuna García, have been killed since 1992. IAPA says eight other journalists have been murdered in Mexico this year.

Another journalist in Veracruz State received death threats which she thinks are from local union leaders, reports CEPET. María de los Ángeles González Hernández, a columnist for the "Política" newspaper and the online daily "Al calor político", reported that since 22 October she has received seven emails threatening her and her family. She believes the threats stem from a column she wrote that describes a victory by independent workers who defeated a union affiliate in a struggle involving a collective agreement.

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