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Impunity surrounds case of journalist missing for three years

(ARTICLE 19/CENCOS/IFEX) - Mexico City, 20 November 2009 - More than 1095 days have passed since journalist José Antonio García Apac disappeared on 20 November 2006 and the government has failed to carry out a complete investigation or punish those responsible. The journalist was the editor of the "Eco de la Cuenca" newspaper in Tepalcatepec, in the coastal area of the state of Michoacán (southwestern Mexico).

In April 2007, four months after the Michoacán Prosecutor General's Office launched an investigation into the journalist's disappearance, the case was transferred to the federal authorities, under the jurisdiction of the National Attorney General's Office (PGR). Three months later, the PGR shelved the case after deciding that there was insufficient evidence to investigate the disappearance. The Federal Public Prosecutor's Office subsequently re-launched an investigation on 24 January 2008 and then again on 13 March 2008, but eventually also shelved the case due to a lack of leads.

Commenting on "archived" or shelved investigations in cases involving attacks on journalists, the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) made reference to the failure of the authorities to follow all possible leads and fully investigate links to the victims' journalism work.

The report "Press Freedom in Mexico: In the Shadow of Impunity and Violence" ("Libertad de Prensa en México: La Sombra de la Impunidad y la Violencia") details the cases of the eight journalists who have disappeared since 2000. A common element in all the disappearances, besides the fact that the journalists' whereabouts are unknown, is that impunity reigns in all eight cases. According to ARTICLE 19 and CENCOS, the government has failed to meet its international obligations as regards the protection of the right to freedom of expression and information, personal safety and the right to justice and due process.

ARTICLE 19 and CENCOS express their support for missing journalists' relatives and colleagues and urge the Mexican government to thoroughly investigate the disappearances, identify and punish those responsible and provide compensation to the victims.

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