The past six months have seen the broadening of a political transition which, among other central features, has granted journalists increasingly greater freedom and independence in their work. During this period the following important events have occurred: The administration of President Vicente Fox has announced that it will submit a bill to amend federal law to authorize the Attorney Generals Office to take over the investigation of any case involving severe human rights violations, including murders of journalists when there is evidence indicating that they were murdered for their work. This legislative reform will be the culmination of a series of campaigns against impunity carried out by the IAPA over many years. After a hearing last October at the headquarters of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Washington, the Mexican government agreed to the IAPAs request to create a task force to review the cases of Héctor Félix Miranda and Víctor Manuel Oropeza. The task force is to be made up of representatives from the IAPA and the government. On February 20, the government of Mexico City announced a bill that would remove libel and defamation laws from the citys Penal Code. The announcement noted that these laws, as currently worded, discourage criticism of the government and have a gag effect on the news media. Unfortunately, in other parts of the country, such as the states of Chiapas and Aguascalientes, laws have been amended to make them even more restrictive on journalists. The Mexican Senate is currently working on a bill that would protect the confidentiality of journalistic sources. This bill, which could go to a vote in April, would bar agents of the federal judiciary from requiring journalists to reveal their sources. In fact, it would provide for sanctions against any government employee exerting such pressure. During a national forum organized by the IAPA with judges from all 31 states in the country, Chief Justice Mariano Azuela Güitrón of the Supreme Court of Mexico agreed to regulate the courts access to information, in response to allegations that the courts were not obeying the Law on Transparency and Access to Public Information. The most important cases involving assaults on freedom of the press are as follows: On November 25, 2003, new evidence emerged in the case of Philip True, a journalist from the United States whose body was found in a mountainous area of the western state of Jalisco in December 1998. Weeks later, two indigenous men, Juan Chivarra and Miguel Hernández, were found guilty of his murder and sentenced to 13 years in prison. However, in August 2002 both men were set free by a judge who reviewed the case and ruled that there was insufficient evidence for a guilty verdict. Last November, Patricia Morales, the defendants attorney, said at a news conference in that Chivarra and Hernández had confessed to her that they had murdered True. The prosecution has appealed the order setting the defendants free to the state Supreme Court, where a final decision on the case is still pending. In December 2003, Irene Medrano Villanueva, a journalist from the state of Sinaloa in northwestern Mexico, reported that she had received death threats by phone and that gunshots had gone off outside her home. She had published a series of reports on child prostitution in Culiacán, the state capital. Phone records have shown that some of these threats originated from the office of the citys mayor, Jesús Enrique Hernández Chávez, who is now under investigation. The government of the state of Chiapas has received multiple accusations of attacks on journalists. The accusations have been made by two newspapers: Cuarto Poder, headed by Conrado de la Cruz, and Siglo XXI, headed by Walter Hernández González in the city of San Cristóbal de las Casas. Last January, Angel Mario Ksheratto, a columnist for Cuarto Poder, was arrested on charges of libel and subsequently released after posting bond. The charges were made after reports were published on evidence of alleged corruption by a state official. Several newspaper reporters, fearing arrest, have been granted protection orders by the federal courts. On February 17, also in Chiapas, the state legislature reformed the Penal Code to broaden the definition of criminal libel and defamation and establish stiffer penalties for these crimes as well. The reforms have provoked criticism of Governor Pablo Salazar Mendiguchía, including marches by journalists in several cities in the state. On February 12, the legislature of the state of Aguascalientes passed a law submitted by the executive branch that restored the crimes of defamation and libel to the Penal Code. These laws had been repealed in May 2003. On January 1, Daniel León Rivera, a journalist from Baja California, filed allegations of assault and threats made by Silvano Abarca Macklis, an alternate member of the federal Chamber of Deputies and a former mayor in the state. Abarca assaulted León Rivera in public for an article published in the weekly Foro de Ensenada which accused Abarca of improprieties during his term as mayor of the town of Rosarito. On February 19, police officers in the state of Morelos, in central Mexico, burst into the home of Jorge Medina Palomino, a photographer for El Universal. The officers had no search or arrest warrant, and claimed to be looking for an alleged drug laboratory. In the days prior to this incident, Medina had documented abuses during a police raid of an indigenous community in the state. Last February, Mario Renato Menéndez, a journalist and owner of the newspaper ¡Por Esto! in the state of Yucatán, reported that the authorities had attempted to intimidate him by threatening to have him arrested for a minor tax debt resulting from a court investigation in which he had not been granted access to a hearing. On March 10, the assistant editor of the newspaper Imagen of Zacatecas was the victim of a physical and verbal assault, including a death threat, during a plenary session of the state legislature by Gumaro Elías Hernández Zúñiga, a legislator of the PRI party. The newspaper had criticized Hernández for alleged corruption when he had been the mayor of Río Grande, Zacatecas, and as a result he was forced to return two million pesos to the municipal treasury. This was the context for the legislators assault on journalist Francisco Reynoso. On March 11, Hernández Zúñiga filed a criminal complaint against the newspaper, its executives and Francisco Reynoso, alleging that his reputation had been damaged.