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Community radio journalist sentenced to two years in prison

(AMARC/IFEX) - On 3 November 2010, Héctor Camero, a member of the Tierra y Libertad community radio station, was convicted of using, developing and exploiting radio frequencies without authorisation.

In his ruling, the Fifth District Criminal Judge for Nuevo León, using article 150 of the National Assets Act, sentenced Camero to two years in prison, a fine of more than 15,000 pesos (approx. US$1200) and the withdrawal of his civil and political rights.

The case against Camero started in 2008 with a police operation involving more than 120 officers, who raided the Radio Tierra y Libertad offices and dismantled the station's broadcasting equipment. Many organisations have called for this case to be dropped, saying that the criminal proceedings have been plagued with irregularities. For example, Camero was initially called as a witness in the case, but then the Public Prosecutor's office, without presenting any new evidence, suddenly changed his status to that the accused.

Despite the efforts of AMARC-Mexico and other organisations to have the charges against Camero dropped, the judge decided to hand down a sentence that went against these recommendations. AMARC-Mexico condemns this decision and will appeal the sentence in order to defend the right to free expression as guaranteed in Article 6 of the Mexican Constitution.

AMARC reminds the Mexican government of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights' statement that states should not abuse their ability to impose penalities when it comes to matters relating to the right to freedom of expression.By using the criminal law system, the Mexican government has violated the minimum standards of freedom of expression that it is obliged to honour under the Interamerican System.

The sentencing of Camero once more demonstrates the urgent need for a legal framework that recognises the characteristics inherent to community radio and is based on international standards in the field, establishing a clear process that would provide these media outlets with legal certainty.

Radio Tierra y Libertad applied for a license in 2002 and did not receive it until 2009, showing that it had complied with the required legal process. The station was created to give a voice to people living in the Tierra y Libertad district, who are mainly factory workers in Monterrey. It is the only radio station in the region that addresses the day-to-day problems facing people in the marginalised community of workers.

(Please note this is an abridged translation.)
Case history

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