Miami (March 12, 2012)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) expects that the Mexican Senate will vote tomorrow in plenary session on a bill to amend Article 73 of the nation’s Constitution to consider crimes committed against freedom of expression or the right to information as federal offenses.
The bill was sent to the Senate by the lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, on November 11, 2011, and has been passed without any modification by the Senate’s Joint Committees on Constitutional and Legislative Studies. Thus the following wording will be added to Article 73, Clause 21: “The federal authorities shall also be able to deal with offenses of general jurisdiction when connected to federal offenses or crimes against journalists, persons or installations that affect, limit or impair the right to information, freedom of expression or of the press.”
According to the senators, the IAPA was able to ascertain that the measure is expected to be passed by the full Senate and it would then be sent to the state legislatures, which would have no set deadline to debate and vote on it; thus it would only become law if the majority of the state legislatures approve the amendment.
The constitutional amendment is also conditional, in addition, on the transitory articles of the bill itself, as the third article states that the federal authorities shall have the ability to take up these kinds of offenses “after the adoption of the amendments to the subordinate law, which to this effect the Honorable Congress of the Union (of Mexico) issues.”
Congress has also given the executive branch up to six months to present the required proposals for these amendments to the transitory legislation to be enacted.
The IAPA has insisted for more than a decade on the need to bring under federal jurisdiction crimes committed against journalists, as an essential tool to prevent the murders or disappearances of members of the press from going unpunished.
IAPA officers met in numerous occasions with representatives of the executive and legislative branches of the Mexican government to pursue this reform. Four years ago IAPA presented to them a proposed amendment which had been drafted by editors and publishers from various Mexican states, and that was in turn taken up in essence by legislators, all of which resulted in the aforementioned constitutional reform.
The IAPA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press and of expression in the Americas. It is made up of more than 1,300 print publications from throughout the Western Hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida. The IAPA Impunity Project is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and has the mission of combating violence against journalists and lessening the impunity surrounding the majority of such crimes. For more information please go to http://www.sipiapa.org; http://www.impunidad.com