29 July 2010
IAPA calls on Mexican government to safeguard lives of four abducted reporters
The IAPA expressed deep concern for this weeks kidnapping of four reporters in the Mexican state of Durango and for the grave level of violence in the country, calling on the government to act urgently to safeguard the lives of the missing and the fundamental rights of citizens in general.
The IAPA expressed deep concern for this weeks kidnapping of four reporters in the Mexican state of Durango and for the grave level of violence in the country, calling on the government to act urgently to safeguard the lives of the missing and the fundamental rights of citizens in general. The abducted journalists, Jaime Canales, a cameraman with Multimedios Laguna; Alejandro Hernández, a cameraman with Televisa Torreón; Héctor Gordoa, a reporter for Televisa México, and Oscar Solís, a reporter for the newspaper El Vespertino, were seized on Monday (July 26) after covering a riot at a prison (Social Rehabilitation Center No. 2) in Gómez Palacio, Durango. This afternoon Gordoa was released. The prison has been under the control of the Federal Police following accusations of corruption involving its wardens. IAPA President Alejandro Aguirre, editor of the Miami, Florida, Spanish-language newspaper Diario Las Américas, expressed his sympathy for the families and colleagues of the abducted journalists, declaring, The expansion of violence we are witnessing is of grave concern, and with no safeguards the press cannot do its job without fear of retribution. He added: Earlier this year we took an IAPA mission to Durango and at the time we felt the fear expressed by local editors and reporters who stated publicly that if the government failed to act immediately an escalation of violence against the press would take place. That time has arrived. At the IAPA forum held in the city of Durango on February 16, editors and publishers of newspapers from Durango, Coahuila, Sinaloa and Sonora urged federal and state officials to provide safeguards so journalists could do their jobs. In the Declaration of Durango they denounced the failure of authorities to combat the general climate of violence and called for crimes against journalists to be made federal offenses as well as the implementation of concrete measures such as the creation of joint Communications offices of police, public prosecutors offices and the Army so that news media could have access to timely and transparent information about violent acts. Robert Rivard, chairman of the IAPAs Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, said that the IAPA has been keeping a close watch on developments in the case of the missing reporters, but such a delicate matter requires that the organization act prudently and with restraint. Rivard, editor of the San Antonio Express-News, Texas, issued an open call for the journalists to be freed immediately and in good condition. Both Aguirre and Rivard reiterated, in the name of the IAPA, support for all Mexican news media, particularly those directly affected. They further declared that this is the time for solidarity and joint efforts by journalists to work for the good of all. According to local reports, the abducted journalists communicated with their respective news media at 6:00 p.m. on Monday to inform that their kidnappers, believed to be members of the Sinaloa drug cartel, were demanding that three videos be broadcast. Telediario de la Laguna, for which the Canales works, aired the videos on Tuesday (July 27) for 15 minutes in a special synch-up with Mexico Citys Milenio Televisión. The video showed a group of unidentified persons claiming that Los Zetas gang works in collusion with police officers in the border town of Torreón in Coahuila state and in the Durango towns of Gómez Palacio and Lerdo. So far this year the IAPA has registered complaints with Mexican authorities on the disappearance of eight journalists, six of them in Tamaulipas between February and March. On several occasions the organization has also called for the resolution of this years murders of nine journalists.