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New special prosecutor must focus political will in one of world's deadliest places for journalists, says ARTICLE 19

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - 15 February 2010 - ARTICLE 19 calls on Gustavo Salas Chávez, newly appointed Special Prosecutor for Crimes Against the Media, to promote and guarantee effective investigation of aggression against journalists and combat Mexico's prevailing culture of impunity.

Chávez replaces Octavio Orellana, who was widely regarded as ineffective at stemming the number of attacks and murders of media workers in Mexico. Orellana claimed that the frequent murders of journalists, eleven in 2009, were not related to their work.

The Office of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes Against the Media (FEADP) was established in 2006 but has lacked the political will to investigate crimes and bring their perpetrators to justice. Organisations such as the National Human Rights Commission have complained that FEADP is ineffective. The limited and ambiguous mandate of FEADP together with a lack of political will has resulted in a large number of cases being declared "on reserve" whereby all investigations are suspended until new evidence arises. Only a few cases are being formally investigated and just four cases in four years have seen charges brought.

According to international standards, Special Prosecutor Chávez must:
- Be independent
- Be impartial
- Have the necessary capacities and knowledge to develop his post
- Base FEADP investigations on a human rights perspective, protect the rights of victims, and avoid re-victimisation
- Train FEADP personnel on the right to freedom of expression.

ARTICLE 19 calls on Chávez to reform FEADP's legal framework in line with international standards, and implement prosecution and protection mechanisms based on the right to freedom of expression. ARTICLE 19 also calls on FEADP to meet its obligations in the area of transparency and accountability.

ARTICLE 19 reiterates its call to the Mexican Congress to approve such necessary reforms in order to empower the federal authorities to investigate crimes against those practicing journalism.

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