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Crime reporter disappears in Saltillo, Coahuila

UPDATE: Missing reporter says she is safe but under threat (International Press Institute, 18 June 2012)

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - Mexico City, June 9, 2012 - Journalist Stephania Cardoso has been missing, along with her two year old son, since the early hours of June 8, 2012. Cardoso covers crime news for the newspapers Zócalo Saltillo and Calibre 57, in the state of Coahuila.

The information available so far indicates that the journalist was last seen at a meeting with other reporters from the city that lasted until the early hours of Friday 8 June. Cardoso left the meeting around 2:00 a.m. and later tweeted saying she had arrived home in the neighborhood of Mission Cerritos in Saltillo.

Although the reporter usually started working early in the day, she did not appear at work the next day. As it was impossible to contact her by telephone, her family went to search for her at her home and neither she nor her son were found. Everything inside the house was out of place and her camera was shattered on the floor.

After confirming the disappearance, ARTICLE 19 informed the federal government of the case in the hopes of achieving a coordinated effort from the different government levels in the search and location of Cardoso and her son.

The state of Coahuila is among the most dangerous for journalists. From 2006 to date there have been at least nine attacks with explosives and firearms against media outlets, and two journalists have been killed, one of them, Valentin Valdes Espinosa, who was found dead on January 7 2010, was also a reporter for Zócalo Saltillo.

Rafael Ortiz Martínez, a reporter for Zocalo Monclova, has been missing since July 8, 2006. Nothing is known of his whereabouts.

ARTICLE 19 calls upon the Mexican authorities that participate in the federal mechanism to protect journalists to act quickly to locate and safeguard the life and safety of the journalist and her son.

We also believe that any threat against journalists is an attack on democracy by the way it affects the exercise of freedom of expression. As expressed in Principle 9 of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission, "the murder, kidnapping, intimidation of and/or threats to social communicators, as well as the material destruction of communications media violate the fundamental rights of individuals and strongly restrict freedom of expression. It is the duty of the state to prevent and investigate such occurrences, to punish their perpetrators and to ensure that victims receive due compensation."

ARTICLE 19 remains tuned for more news as soon as possible to confirm the whereabouts of Stephania Cardoso and her son. And we express our solidarity with her family and friends.
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