Impunity / Mexico

WHEREAS there is a clear lack of attention on the part of the Chamber of Deputies concerning the follow-up, review by the Special Committee for Dealing with Attacks Upon Journalists and News Media WHEREAS another example of the Mexican Congress’s insensitivity to the importance of having laws that offer certainty, speed, effectiveness and confidence in investigations into the murder and disappearance of journalists and attacks upon news media is that the Senate are about to pass an amendment to the Federal Penal Code that is insufficient and, indeed, is useless for identifying, investigating and solving these kinds of attacks on freedom of expression WHEREAS a clear indication on the part of the Mexican governmen’st lack of responsibility in preventing attacks on journalists from continuing to go unpunished is that the Foreign Ministry has ceded its responsibility to the public prosecutor’s offices of Baja California and Chihuahua states rather than to step in to take action and get results by acting according to resolutions issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights concerning the murder of journalists Héctor Félix Miranda and Víctor Manuel Oropeza, resolutions which were accepted by the Mexican government WHEREAS the Mexican government, through the Attorney General’s Office (PGR), has demonstrated no conviction about, nor apparent awareness, of the importance of freedom of expression as a fundamental right in a democracy, because both the Specialized Organized Crime Investigation Division and the PGR’s Special Prosecutor’s Office for Dealing with Crimes Against Journalists have allowed cases under their jurisdiction to continue to go unpunished, including some cases that date back as far as 1997. WHEREAS despite public statements by the head of the PGR’s Special Prosecutor’s Office for Dealing with Crimes Against Journalists that the crimes would be solved and the results announced there have been no reports of progress in the cases under his responsibility, which together with the report that he gave at the beginning of the year in which he untruthfully stated that the majority of crimes against journalists had been solved, what is clear is his lack of commitment to seeing justice done and the failure of his office, which only serves as a Mexican government front to pretend that these attacks are investigated and solved, while in fact they continue to go completely unpunished WHEREAS in spite of repeated requests by the IAPA for the PGR’s Special Prosecutor’s Office for Dealing with Crimes Against Journalists to officially take up attacks on journalists committed because of their job, the Office responded – one year later – that this is impossible to do because “the majority of the crimes arise from criminal complaints by the party or parties” – a deceptive response and one that contradicts the spirit of the Mexican Constitution concerning the role and responsibilities of the Public Prosecutor’s Office WHEREAS the PGR’s Special Committee for Dealing with Crimes Against Journalists responded, also after a year’s delay, to the insistent request of the IAPA to review all the cases of the murder and disappearance of journalists in Mexico in order to determine whether they come under its jurisdiction in order that they may be solved, again gave a fallacious answer, saying “it is not possible due to the limited authority that the Office has” to determine how “a journalist can show” that the offense had been committed as a result of his or her work and was therefore a federal offense. However, the Special Committee does not explain how it came to that conclusion if it has not reviewed some 70 cases of the killings and disappearances of journalists since 1987, nor how it could not have taken up the majority of these cases, if it had the will, because Armed Forces weapons were exclusively used in the crimes WHEREAS the state public prosecutors offices have not advanced either in their investigations into murders, disappearances or threats made to journalists, which can only be interpreted as a serious violation of the constitutional obligation to pursue, arrest and put on trial those responsible for such crimes WHEREAS both the PGR and the state public prosecutors have made clear their intention to attribute the murders and disappearances of journalists to motives other than those linked to their profession, such as personal reasons, robbery or mistaken identification of the victim, without publicly providing evidence to support these assertions WHEREAS self-censorship has extended throughout the country given the impunity that exists and in light of pressure, threats and attacks on news media and individual journalists by organized crime, labor union leaders, local bosses, politicians and corrupt businessmen, which keep at very great risk journalists in Tamaulipas, Coahuila, Durango, Chihuahua, Sonora, Baja California, Sinaloa, Veracruz, Guerrero, Michoacán, Oaxaca, Tabasco, Nuevo León, the Yucatán peninsula and Chiapas WHEREAS on May 3, 2009 the murder occurred in the township of Santa Maria in El Oro of the correspondent of the Durango newspaper El Tiempo, Carlos Ortega Samper, with the PGR taking up the case but failing to show any progress, despite the fact that the newspaper has insistently asserted that the masterminds might have been former municipal officials whom Ortega Samper had accused of corruption WHEREAS on May 26, 2009 Eliseo Barrón Hernández, a reporter with La Opinión Milenio of Coahuila was kidnapped, tortured and murdered, with four men subsequently arrested and put on trial as the alleged killers and accomplices, despite persistent doubts about their responsibilities for the crime. Questions persist, too, about whether the case was ended to eliminate the need to identify, arrest and try the possible mastermind of the crime. WHEREAS Martín Javier Miranda Avilés, a reporter with the newspaper Panorama and correspondent of the Michoacán news agency Quadratín, was found dead at his home, with signs of having been stabbed twice in the back, on July 12, 2009 in the township of Zitácuaro; the authorities have issued no report on the line of investigation and who might have been responsible, leaving the reason for his death unknown WHEREAS Ernesto Montañes Valdivia, editor of the Chihuahua newspaper El Sol’s “Enfoque” section, was murdered on July 14, 2009 in Chihuahua state, with no concrete details on the possible motive coming to light, so it is not known if his death was linked to his work as a journalist WHEREAS W Radio correspondent and host of the program “Guerrero en Vivo” Juan Daniel Martínez Gil was abducted and his body, with signs of his having been tortured, was discovered on July 28, 2009, with no motive yet determined, but with authorities pursuing various lines of investigation, among them personal motives, his own possible involvement in criminal acts, and links to his work as a journalist. WHEREAS Norberto Miranda Madrid, editor of the online magazine Cotorreando con el Gallito and a member of the Democratic Revolutionary Party, was murdered on September 23, 2009 in his newsroom; the available information indicates the motive might be linked to his work as a journalist providing exposés, however the authorities have not reported any concrete progress, much less the arrest of anyone believed involved in the murder WHEREAS Fabián Ramírez López, an announcer with regional radio network La Magia 97.1 in Mazatlán, Sinaloa, was found dead on October 11, 2009 after having gone missing for two days WHEREAS two obvious examples of the lack of punishment which the Mexican authorities maintain for attacks on journalists are the murder of American journalist Philip True, in which the two people found guilty of the crime have not been re-arrested, and the murder of columnist Manuel Burgueño, the alleged mastermind being in jail and facing trial on other charges (Humberto Rodríguez Bañuelos, a.k.a. La Rana – The Frog), but never formally charged with this murder WHEREAS on November 2, 2009 the murder occurred of El Tiempo of Durango reporter Blamidir Antuna, one of the strongest theories as to the motive stemming from his work as a journalist, so the Durango Public Prosecutor’s Office must work hard to quickly come up with real results in order not to let the situation of generalized impunity, and the fear felt by reporters, persist after three such murders in the state in just six months WHEREAS Principle 4 of the Declaration of Chapultepec establishes: “Freedom of expression and of the press are severely limited by murder, terrorism, kidnapping, 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 GENERAL ASSEMBLY RESOLVES to urge the Mexican Congress not to pass the amendment to the Penal Code regarding freedom of expression, with the objective to include again amendments that are truly useful to combat impunity surrounding attacks on journalists and news media, and in addition to urge the Chamber of Deputies to reinstate the Special Committee to Follow Up Attacks Upon Journalists and News Media, providing it with a budget and placing its work in a prominent position on the legislative agenda to demand that the Foreign Ministry comply, without hypocrisy, with the international commitments it made as representative of the Mexican government on the resolution of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights regarding the murders of Héctor Félix Miranda and Víctor Manuel Oropeza to urge the recently-named Mexican Attorney General, Arturo Chávez Chávez, to take up the petitions of the IAPA regarding turning the Special Prosecutor’s Office for Dealing with Crimes Against Journalists into a real investigative body that is serious, transparent and effective regarding attacks upon freedom of expression, and to change the profile of the person in charge of that body so that he becomes one who truly responds to the country’s demands and assaults on the people’s right to freely informed to ask Attorney General Arturo Chávez Chávez to report clearly and transparently on all the cases under the jurisdiction of that federal body, so as to learn of progress and results, and to order the Special Public Prosecutor’s Office for Dealing with Crimes Against Journalists to review all the cases of murder and disappearance of journalists in the past and, with the greatest will and to seek a genuine sense of justice, bring under its responsibility the majority of the case files with the aim of fully solving the cases to urge Attorney General Arturo Chávez Chávez to implement new investigation protocols so that inquiries are conducted in a different manner and with sufficient sensitivity that enables all the cases of attacks on journalists and news media to be dealt with rapidly and thoroughly, doing away with any bureaucratic and closed attitude that has prevailed up to now and that has caused impunity to deepen to ask the public prosecutors offices of the states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Tamaulipas, Durango, Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Chiapas, Tabasco, Michoacán, Guerrero, Jalisco, Veracruz, Baja California and Sinaloa to comply with their constitutional obligation to obtain justice, demonstrating in a transparent, in-depth and speedy fashion in every case of murder, disappearance of and threats to journalists and news media that they have under their responsibility the results and the evidence supporting them as a means of contributing to the protection of the right to information and to freedom of expression, so that members of the press are no longer afraid and the people do not see impunity as a form of vulnerability to demand that President Felipe Calderón and Interior Minister Fernando Gómez Mont draw up integral strategies to confront the phenomenon of organized crime and ensure the safety of reporters under threat and pressure, in a bid to safeguard freedom of expression as a social right that underpins democracy to ask the government of Durango and all the authorities of the three branches of government to immediately take clear and strong action to halt the violence that has been unleashed against citizens, especially against journalists, and which has resulted in the death of three members of the press in just six months, and in the three cases with elements that show they were killed in connection with their work as journalists, which makes it essential urgently to protect the work of the media and individual journalists to urge the state and federal governments to order the public prosecutors offices to speedily take up the cases that they have in their offices on attacks on freedom of expression and not to let them continue to go unpunished, to publicly announce results that have been obtained, without seeking to confuse or avert attention by claiming that there were other motives for the attack, to provide guarantees for the work of journalists and build legal support, bringing about needed legislative changes in order to provide greater security for journalists. .