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Video contradicts police accusations, yet reporters remain in jail in Mexico

Protestors are arrested during demonstrations in Mexico City
Protestors are arrested during demonstrations in Mexico City


On the eve of President Enrique Peña Nieto's first state-of-the-nation speech, scheduled for 2 September 2013, protests broke out in Mexico City over proposed changes to the education system. Four journalists were arrested while covering the protests, which were led by union members concerned about how the law would tie teachers' jobs to their performance evaluations. According to ARTICLE 19 and Reporters Without Borders (RSF), SubVersiones photographer Gustavo Ruíz Lizárraga, Estela Morales of Regeneración Radio, freelancer Alejandro Amado Fraustro and Pável Alejandro Primo Noriega of Multimedios Cronopios were all detained by police.

RSF's release said the journalists were charged with “endangering public order, obstructing the authorities, fabricating and carrying objects for the purpose of violence, and resisting arrest.”

A fifth journalist, Daniel Cruz, a photographer with Milenio, was attacked by police during the protests even though he had identified himself as a journalist.

ARTICLE 19 reported witnesses as saying that Noriega had been arrested as he recorded protesters being detained. Before Lizárraga was arrested he passed his videocamera to another reporter. His footage shows police abuses and contradicts the accusations that have been made against himself and the journalists who were detained.

Detención Arbitraria de periodista de Agencia SubVersiones from SubVersiones on Vimeo.

On 3 September Morales and Fraustro were released from police custody, after paying a fine of just over 23,000 pesos each (approx. US$1710). That same day Lizárraga and Noriega were placed in preventive detention until bail could be set by a judge.

On 4 September, Judge Fausto Agustín Favela Ayala set bail for Lizárraga at 126,474 pesos (approx. US$9,440). The journalist was unable to post bail and the judge ignored requests from ARTICLE 19 lawyers for the amount to be reduced or for Lizárraga to be allowed to pay a deposit of 10% of the amount. Noriega's hearing was postponed and both men remain in detention. Heriberto Paredes Coronel, the editor of SubVersiones, expressed his concerns about the way the case was developing to RSF, adding that authorities he contacted for help would not recognise his website as a media outlet.

ARTICLE 19 is calling on authorities to look into who was behind the detention of the protesters and journalists in the capital city and has asked the international community to condemn acts that criminalise social protests.

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