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Director of community radio station detained

(AMARC/IFEX) - Mexico City, 1 December 2011 - Juan José Hernández, the director of the community radio station Radio Diversidad in Veracruz state, was detained today following a sentencing that accused him of using and exploiting assets belonging to the state without permission, as outlined in Article 150 of the National Assets Act.

This is the second time that a member of Radio Diversidad has been detained. The radio station was shut down on 11 March 2009 by the Attorney General's Office based on an official complaint filed against the station in January 2009.

Radio Diversidad was founded in response to concerns by the youth in Paso el Macho, Veracruz. Its purpose is to provide information on local issues, including the rights of people who harvest sugar cane, and connect to other civil society groups, with a particular focus on improving the living conditions of youth and residents of the town and its surrounding villages.

It is important to highlight that several times since 2008, members of Radio Diversidad have applied for permission to operate a radio station but they have not received any response from the authorities. Therefore, in light of the community's needs, the radio made the decision to broadcast without clarification of its legal status.

As mentioned by the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, it is important to implement legislation that complies with international standards on accessibility of radio frequencies for community radio stations and to establish a clear judicial framework for their operation. The Mexican State has failed to provide a reliable mechanism for the allocation of radio frequencies; however, it is diligent in prosecuting anyone who transmits without a licence.

The authorities' continued persistence in prosecuting social activists, community radio operators and journalists who cover public interest issues is tantamout to attempts to silence freedom of information. This prosecution is incompatible with freedom of expression and interferes with the free flow of information that is necessary for the construction of democracy in Mexico.

AMARC-Mexico condemns the detention of Juan José Hernández, as well as the use of disproportionate legal action against community journalists who make their voices heard.

(Please note this is an abridged translation.)

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