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CPJ report says violence against the press is a national crisis

A justice system controlled by criminals has created an environment of pervasive self-censorship with news outlets abandoning investigative reporting and basic daily coverage of crime and corruption in Mexico, says a new report by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). "Silence or Death in Mexico's Press" says systemic impunity has become entrenched at the state and local levels.

Twenty-two journalists have been murdered since President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa came to power in December 2006. At least eight journalists were killed for reporting on crime and corruption. Journalists under threat receive no support from local police. Drug traffickers enforce censorship with threats, attacks and payoffs, while many reporters take bribes from the cartel to distort or withhold coverage.

The criminal justice system has failed to successfully prosecute more than 90 percent of press-related crimes over the last decade, says the report. CPJ found state prosecutors and police conduct negligent work using unlawful methods, including coercion of witnesses and fabrication of evidence.

CPJ and other press advocates support broad reforms to add crimes against free expression to the federal penal code, and make federal authorities responsible for investigating and prosecuting attacks on the press.

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