There has been a decrease in recent months in the number of attacks on freedom of expression, but there were complaints of advertising boycotts, threats and legal actions, libel suits, and journalists having been arrested and detained for several hours. There continues to be a hostile attitude toward reporters working in high crime areas, especially where drug traffickers operate. Against this background, the IAPA and Mexican newspapers El Universal and Frontera held a conference in Tijuana in August, titled Drug Trafficking: Journalists At Risk, in which a clear message of repudiation of crimes against journalists was issued. A letter sent from the conference to President Vicente Fox reiterated the demand that the murder of a journalist, being a crime designed to curtail the basic rights and freedoms of society, be considered a federal offense. Following meetings of the regional vice chairman for Mexico of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information with a number of government officials, it was agreed that the Attorney General’s Office would handle – as the law allows under certain conditions – investigation into the murder of journalist José Luis Ortega Mata on February 19, 2001, in the border town of Ojinaga, Chihuahua state, which remains unpunished. Meanwhile, in the Government Ministry, equivalent to the Department of the Interior, a review group was set up to look at the status of inquiries into other crimes against journalists. The group, which includes representatives of human rights and press organizations, is currently reviewing 59 cases. Special attention will be given to what are regarded as “historic” cases brought to the IAPA’s attention. There are a number of instances of inconclusive investigations in to the murders of journalists where there is clear evidence that the motive had to do with their work. Such is the situation in the cases of the April 29 1988 murder of Héctor Félix Miranda and the July 3, 1991, killing of Víctor Manuel Oropeza, and the attempted murder of Jesús Blancornelas in November 1997. The authorities offered to launch a formal legal review in coming weeks of actiosn that could be taken so that the Attorney General’s Office might become involved in all investigatins into the murders of journalists, backed by a government decree and without having need to amend any specific law or the Constitution. On May 30, the Jalisco State Supreme Court reversed a ruling by a lower court in August 2001 acquitting, for lack of evidence, two people accused of the murder of American reporter Phillip True, whose body was found in December 1998 in a mountainous area of Jalisco state on the border with Nayarit state. The higher court ordered the defendants re-arrested and sentenced them to 13 years’ imprisonment. However, the defense attorney of one of the accused served notice of appeal and the arrest order is pending. The Mexican Congress on April 30 unanimously passed the Federal Law on Transparency and Access to Public Information, thus crowning a series of efforts that culminated in February 2001 when, under the auspices of the IAPA, a seminar was held in Mexico City on the issue of transparency in government, with the main focus being the need for Mexico to have a law on the subject. The new measure was signed into law by President Vicente Fox on June 3 and entered into effect the following day. Its provisions are to be implemented within a year. On September 30, Gen. Francisco Arellano Noblecía apologized to El Imparcial of Hermosillo. Earlier, he had filed a criminal libel suit against the paper and its executives. On March 11, María Esther Martínez, a reporter for La Unión de Morelos, published in the central Mexican state of Morelos, was arrested and charged with criminal libel on the orders of the state attorney after publishing criticism of him and a police unit under his direction. Martínez was released after being interrogated for several hours. On April 1, Raquel Urbán Hernández, a reporter for the weekly Reporteros Informando in Ecatepec, Mexico state, was arrested and held briefly in custody before being freed on bail. She was accused of libeling a local congressman after reporting allegations that he had raped a minor. On April 3, unidentified persons fired shots into the air outside the offices of the weekly Páginas in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas state, and threatened staff there. Company executives called it attempted intimidation by state officials for the publication’s critical tone. In the same state, in the town of San Cristóbal de las Casas, Fredy Martín López, correspondent of El Universal of Mexico City and the Italian news agency ANSA, was beaten up by state police officers and his camera was seized. Also in Chiapas, Conrado de la Cruz, owner of the newspaper Cuarto Poder, complained of a campaign of harassment against the paper, including verbal abuse by state officials, bids to lure reporters away by offering them jobs in the government and cancellation of official advertising. De la Cruz blamed state governor Pablo Salazar Mendiguchía for the actions. On May 8, Alejandro Junco, editor of the daily Reforma, was called into the Public Prosecutors Office to answer a charge of libel made by a congressman from the state of Mexico following publication of a report from a correspondent saying he had received undue amounts of money from the state legislature. On October 18, José Santiago Healy, president and executive editor of Crónica of Mexicali – a daily in the Healy Newspapers chain – complained of an advertising boycott by the Baja California state government, headed by Gov. Eugenio Elorduy Walther, as a response to allegations of corruption directly involving the governor and a number of his aides. On October 19, it was reported that the Chihuahua state government, headed by Gov. Patricio Martínez, had filed a criminal libel suit against journalists of the Ciudad Juárez daily Norte after it published a report that the state administration had unlawfully obtained land to the benefit of certain businesses.