Impunity - Mexico

WHEREAS doubts remain concerning the October 16, 2002, death of José Miranda Virgen, columnist of the daily newspaper Sur de Veracruz, that the cause might not have been unpremeditated accident, as the Veracruz State Attorney’s Office concluded, and because there was no investigation into the relationship of the incident with the kind of reporting that the journalist did as a critical columnist WHEREAS Félix Fernández García, editor of the magazine Nueva Opción in Ciudad Miguel Alemán, Tamaulipas, was murdered on January 18, 2002, and to date the investigation into his death has produced no result WHEREAS Saúl Antonio Martínez González, managing editor of the newspaper El Imparcial in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, was murdered on March 24, 2001, and to date the investigation into his death has produced no result WHEREAS José Luis Ortega Mata, editor of the weekly newspaper Semanario de Ojinaga, was murdered on February 19, 2001, and following the arrest and subsequent release from custody of the alleged mastermind of the murder there has been no further development in the case, even though it has been transferred to federal jurisdiction WHEREAS the two alleged perpetrators of the 1998 murder of Philip True, correspondent in Mexico of the San Antonio Express-News, remain free after a February 20 ruling by the Third Circuit Second Collegiate Court, a federal court, overturning the 13-year prison sentence against them by the state Supreme Court, on the grounds of irregularities in the appeal lodged by the Jalisco State Attorney’s Office against acquittal of the two by a lower court in Colotlán in August 2001 WHEREAS the Mexican government has not responded to all the recommendations issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights concerning the cases of the murders, investigated by the IAPA, of Héctor Félix Miranda on April 29, 1988, and Víctor Manuel Oropeza on July 3, 1991, in which it has been established that the Mexican government has an international liability for the violations committed, it being the case that in neither of the cases has the possibility of a political motive been investigated WHEREAS the President of Mexico, Vicente Fox, recently reiterated his pledge to have steps taken at the federal level for investigations to be carried out into the murder of journalists and while last April an Task Force on Incidents Against Freedom of Expression was set up in the Interior Ministry, this has not been sufficient to solve the still open cases WHEREAS Principle 4 of the Declaration of Chapultepec holds that “freedom of expression and of the press are severely limited by murder, terrorism, kidnapping, pressure, intimidation, the unjust imprisonment of journalists, the destruction of facilities, violence of any kind and impunity for perpetrators. Such acts must be investigated promptly and punished harshly” THE IAPA MIDYEAR MEETING RESOLVES to call upon the Veracruz state authorities to keep the case of José Miranda Virgen open, so that, so long as state jurisdiction permits it, new lines of investigation can be pursued in the event that it later emerges that the accident in which the columnist died was premeditated and was a consequence of his working as a journalist to urge the Tamaulipas state authorities to make every effort to solve the murders of Félix Fernández García and Saúl Antonio Martínez González, identifying both the perpetrators and those behind the crimes to request that the Mexican Attorney General’s Office report on the findings so far in the investigation into the alleged murder of José Luis Ortega Mata, that was taken up recently by the Specialized Organized Crime Unit (UEDO) to repudiate the irregular manner in which the case of Philip True has been handled, beginning with the deficient initial police inquiries, and to encourage the Jalisco and federal judicial authorities to undertake a rigorous review of the evidence and to mete out due punishment of the guilty to ask the Mexican government and judiciary to take the necessary steps to ensure that the above-mentioned cases do not go unpunished, considering the need for the murder of journalists to be handled at the federal level so as to provide greater guarantees and transparency and that the repeated promise of the executive branch, in the person of President Vicente Fox, that this will be the case in fact is carried out as soon as possible, preferably before his six-year term ends.