But voices concern at disappearance of two newsmen
Miami (June 22, 2012)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) expressed satisfaction at the signing into law today by Mexico’s President Felipe Calderón of a measure that will serve to protect journalists and human rights defenders. At the same time, the IAPA urged the government to speed up actions to put into effect a constitutional amendment that brings crimes against members of the press under federal jurisdiction.
Calderón today enacted the Law for the Protection of Persons Defending Human Rights and Journalists. It consists of 67 articles and establishes, among other protective measures, the evacuation, temporary relocation, assignment of bodyguards and armored cars for victims of violence, and the provision of technological equipment and bullet-proof vests.
The legislation also authorizes the application of punishment of public officials that deliberately put at risk or cause harm to human rights activists and journalists.
The Chair of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Gustavo Mohme, declared, “This is an enormous and very much awaited step in favor of freedom of the press in Mexico.” He additionally stressed the need for subsidiary legislation to be enacted to make crimes against journalists federal offenses.
Mohme, editor of the Lima, Peru, newspaper La República, said, “These two measures will serve to prevent violence against members of the press and dissipate the general framework of impunity surrounding such crimes.” He recalled that so far this year the killing of the following journalists have occurred in Mexico: Gabriel Huge, Guillermo Luna, Esteban Rodríguez, Regina Martínez, Marcos Antonio Ávila García and Víctor Manuel Báez Chino.
The IAPA also expressed concern at the disappearance a month ago in various cities around the country of news photographers Federico Manuel García Contreras and Zane Plemmons, news of these events being learned this week. García Contreras, with the Mexico City newspaper El Punto Crítico, went missing on May 14 in the town of Tanquián de Escobedo in the state of San Luis Potosí , where he had traveled to take photos and show his professional portfolio.
Plemmons, a Mexican-American freelance photographer from Texas, had arrived in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state, a month ago. His family, who live in the U.S. city of San Antonio, Texas, reported his disappearance last night to local news media.
The IAPA urged the authorities to mobilize as rapidly as possible to locate the journalists and determine the reasons for their disappearance.
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