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12 June 2012

The G20 Summit will take place in Mexico on the 18 and 19 June 2012. PEN International has written an open letter to journalists covering the event. We ask them, that in the course of their reporting, they raise the issue of the violence suffered by journalists and writers in Mexico, and of the impunity enjoyed by those who commit these crimes.

Please see the text of the letter below. A PDF copy is available here: Mexico G20 eng pdf

G20 Summit, Mexico, 18-19 June 2012:
An Open Letter to Journalists and Writers

Dear Colleagues,

We write to you on behalf of PEN International, the global writers and free expression organisation with over 100 centres worldwide.

We ask you, as fellow journalists and writers, to remember your murdered and disappeared Mexican colleagues when you report on this year’s G20 Summit in Mexico.

Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world in which to practise journalism. Since 2000, more than 80 writers, journalists and bloggers have been killed in connection to their work, and another 15 have disappeared. Many of these journalists reported on organized crime and corruption; few of their deaths have been investigated properly. There have been only a handful of convictions.

Despite the introduction of two mechanisms aimed at protecting journalists under threat, and the creation, in 2006, of the office of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes Against Freedom of Expression, the rate at which journalists are being killed has increased rather than diminished.

In the first six months of 2012, seven writers have been murdered.

The almost 100% impunity enjoyed by those who kill or threaten journalists in Mexico owes much of its existence to the corruption and inertia that are so prevalent throughout the Mexican states. Police and employees of local administrations are often implicated in attacks on journalists, and, as the Special Prosecutor for Crimes Against Freedom of Expression publicly recognised in March 2012, threats to journalists’ right to free expression often come directly from the state authorities themselves.

In January, the International President and the International Secretary of PEN International led a delegation to Mexico comprising writers from our North American, European and Asian PEN centres, to raise international awareness of the violence suffered there by writers and journalists. The delegation met with, among others, the Mayor of Mexico City, the Minister of the Interior, the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Freedom of Expression and the President of the Senate.

The PEN delegation called for an end to the climate of impunity, and on the Mexican Senate to approve an amendment to the Constitution that would make all attacks on journalists federal crimes. This amendment was passed in March 2012; it now needs to be approved by a majority of the states for it to become law.

However, Mexico’s commitment to freedom of expression will not be measured by legislation, but by a reduction in the number of attacks on journalists and writers, by the prosecution and conviction of those responsible for these crimes, and by tackling corruption.

PEN International asks you – in an act of solidarity with your murdered and disappeared colleagues – to raise the issue of Mexico’s climate of impunity in your coverage of the G20 summit in June.

Yours Sincerely,

John Ralston Saul
International President

Hori Takeaki
International Secretary

Marian Botsford Fraser
Chair of the Writers in Prison Committee

Press Contacts:
John Ralston Saul, International President, 00 1 416-964-2313
Cathal Sheerin 00 44 (0)20 7405 0338