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ARTICLE 19 releases report on press entitled "Forced Silence"

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - March 20, 2012 - During the last year there were 172 attacks in Mexico related to the exercise of press freedom. This represents an increase over 2010 when there were a total of 155 cases. The most serious violations of the past year include:

• 9 murders of journalists.
• 2 murders of media workers.
• 2 disappearances of journalists.
• 8 assaults with firearms or explosives against media installations.

According to the report "Forced Silence: the state, an accomplice in violence against journalists in Mexico", presented by ARTICLE 19, the states with the highest number of attacks on freedom of expression were documented as Veracruz, with 29, the Federal District, with 21, Chihuahua and Coahuila, with 15, and Oaxaca, with 11 cases.

As in previous years, officials from different levels of government were responsible for 41.86% of all attacks on journalists, while organised crime is attributed responsibility for only 13.37% of cases.

The report, which includes an account of the violence in recent years against media workers and media companies, states that since 2000:
• 66 journalists have been killed.
• 13 journalists have disappeared.
• 33 media buildings or offices have been targets of attacks with explosives and firearms.

The figures contrast significantly with those released by the National Commission on Human Rights (CNDH), which, the report says, lack credibility; there are contradictions found in several cases that reveal the absence of clear criteria and it is possible to see that in many cases there has been no follow-up.

ARTICLE 19 noted that the Mexican State's response to the growing problem of violence continues to be only a discourse without tangible results; the Mexican government presented as successes the creation of authorities such as the Special Prosecutor's Office for Crimes Committed against Freedom of Expression, but after six years these are the numbers:

• The role has had two different titles.
• The office has had four different representatives.
• Criminal charges have been filed in only 27 cases.
• There has only been one single conviction.
• The budget allocated to research supposedly fell 72.4% (the under-spending in 2010 was 91.79%)

ARTICLE 19 called on the Mexican state to work on a real mechanism to protect journalists, since what was presented on November 3, 2010 was nothing but the formalisation of coordination between authorities to fulfill the mandate they already had in place. Coupled with this, and despite having 25 million pesos as the initial budget, only 864,311 pesos have been spent on the implementation of an application for safety measures, which were granted two months later.

The report states that between 2009 and 2011 565 attacks on journalists were recorded, of which one out of every two was perpetrated by a public servant, while 13.63 were linked to members of organised crime. During this period there were:

• 27 murders of journalists.
• 24 attacks on media.
• 4 cases of disappearance

In this context, ARTICLE 19 considers it crucial to advance, in the legislative process, the federalisation of crimes against freedom of expression, strengthen the Special Prosecutor's Office, and create clear mechanisms of accountability with strong results justifying the use of resources for crime investigation and the implementation of precautionary measures in favour of journalists at risk.

Click here to see a 20-minute documentary based on the report

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