MEXICO: In Veracruz, one journalist disappeared, another threatened


RAN 20/13 24 April 2013

The Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International is disturbed by the disappearance of Cardel journalist Sergio Landa Rosado from Veracruz state, who has been missing since 23 January 2013, as well as by alleged threats against Proceso reporter Jorge Carrasco Araizaga by Veracruz authorities. PEN calls for a prompt and thorough investigation into Landa’s disappearance and the threats against Carrasco, and for the perpetrators to be brought to justice. It also calls on the Mexican government to provide appropriate protection to Carrasco.

On 23 January 2013, Sergio Landa Rosado, police reporter for the newspaper Cardel, based in the town of Cardel in Veracruz state, was reported missing after he failed to return home the previous day. He was reportedly last seen at his offices where he was preparing materials to send to print. Ministerial and state authorities are reportedly coordinating their efforts to discover his whereabouts. Landa (45) is the first journalist to go missing in Mexico since Enrique Peña Nieto became president in December 2012.

According to reports, colleagues had nicknamed Landa the “oilcloth reporter” due to the fact that he had escaped unharmed from previous attacks. Landa had reportedly only recently come out of hiding and returned to work at Cardel after being kidnapped in November 2012. Kidnapped by an armed group, he was later released after the intervention of federal forces. He is said to have returned to work following the murder of the man who had been identified as the leader of the group which had kidnapped him.

Additionally, the national newsweekly magazine Proceso has recently reported threats against its reporter Jorge Carrasco Araizaga. On 16 April 2013 Proceso reported that current and former Veracruz state officials, along with the police and state attorney general, had met in Las Ánimas, Xalapa, in order to agree on actions to take against Carrasco in response to his most recent article on the case of Regina Martínez Pérez, which began to circulate nationally on 14 April. Carrasco has been investigating the murder of his Martínez, who was Veracruz correspondent for Proceso until she was killed in April 2012, and had reported finding the authorities’ investigation to be lacking in credibility. For more information on Martínez’ case, please see here.

According to Proceso, the officials involved agreed to search for personal information on Carrasco using all national databases and on 15 April 2013 agreed to capture him, taking the decision to harm him should he resist. The National Commission for Human Rights (Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos, CNDH), the federal attorney general and the ministry of the interior have reportedly been informed of the developments by Proceso and are working to protect Carrasco. Those who are reported to have been involved in the meetings have vehemently denied the claims; the Veracruz state attorney general published an open letter on 16 April denying the allegations, reiterating his commitment to freedom of expression and urging the magazine to share its evidence to allow for an investigation. Carrasco has reportedly gone into hiding.

Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world in which to be a journalist. In total, 47 print and internet journalists and writers have been murdered in Mexico since December 2006, when former president Felipe Calderón began his armed offensive against the drug cartels. Including Landa, at least nine print journalists have disappeared in the same period. Few if any of these crimes have been solved.

In March 2013 PEN International submitted a report on this violence and impunity in Mexico to the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights as part of the United Nations’ Universal Periodic Review. In its report, PEN calls for full and transparent federal-level investigations into the murder and disappearance of journalists and writers as well as investigations into all allegations of attacks carried out by government entities. PEN also calls for the strengthening of Mexico’s new protection mechanism for journalists and human rights defenders. The report and full recommendations can be viewed here.

In late 2012, PEN International published the anthology Write Against Impunity, a literary protest highlighting the escalating violence against journalists, writers and bloggers in Latin America – in particular Mexico, Honduras and Brazil – and the impunity enjoyed by those who commit these crimes. For more information, see here.

Please send appeals:

• Protesting the disappearance of Cardel journalist Sergio Landa Rosado in January 2013, as well as threats against Proceso reporter Jorge Carrasco Araizaga in April 2013;
• Calling on the Mexican authorities to conduct a full, prompt and impartial investigation into Landa’s disappearance as well as the threats made against Carrasco, with the involvement of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Freedom of Expression (FEADLE), and for the perpetrators to be brought to justice;
• Urging the Mexican authorities to ensure that Carrasco receives immediate and appropriate protection under the government’s protection mechanism for human rights defenders and journalists;
• Asking that federal authorities including FEADLE are empowered to investigate and prosecute crimes against journalists and freedom of expression, by ensuring that all necessary secondary laws are passed in order to implement fully the amendment to Article 73, Clause 21 of the Mexican Constitution, including making the necessary changes to the Federal Penal Code, the Federal Code on Penal Procedures and the Organic Law of the Federation’s Judiciary;
• Calling on the Mexican authorities to ensure as a matter of urgency that FEADLE is allocated sufficient financial, material and human resources in order to carry out its work;

Appeals to:

President
Lic. Enrique Peña Nieto
Presidente de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos
Residencia Oficial de los Pinos Casa Miguel Alemán
Col. San Miguel Chapultepec, C.P. 11850, DISTRITO FEDERAL, México
Fax: (+ 52 55) 5093 4901/ 5277 2376
Email: enrique.penanieto@presidencia.gob.mx
Messages can also be sent via the Presidency’s website: http://www.presidencia.gob.mx/contacto/
Salutation: Señor Presidente/ Dear Mr President

Attorney General of the Republic
Lic. Jesús Murillo Karam
Procurador General de la República
Av. Paseo de Reforma No. 211-213, Piso 16
Col. Cuauhtémoc, Delegacion Cuauhtémoc
México D.F. C.P. 06500
Tel: + 52 55 5346 0108
Fax: + 52 55 53 46 0908 (if a voice answers, ask “tono de fax, por favor”)
E-mail: ofproc@pgr.gob.mx
Messages can also be sent via the Attorney General’s website: http://www.pgr.gob.mx/servicios/mail/plantilla.asp?mail=1
Salutation: Señor Procurador General/Dear Attorney General

State Attorney General
Lic. Felipe Amadeo Flores Espinosa
Procurador General de Justicia
Cto. Rafael Guizar y Valencia No. 707
Col. Reserva Territorial, C.P. 91096
Xalapa, Veracruz, México
pgjver@pgjver.gob.mx

Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Freedom of Expression
Lic. Laura Angelina Borbolla
Fiscal Especial para la Atención a Delitos cometidos contra la Libertad de Expresión (FEADLE)
Procurador General de la República – Subprocuraduría de Derechos Humanos
López 12, primer piso
Colonia centro, Delegacion Cuauhtémoc
México D.F. C.P. 06500
Tel: + 52 55 5346 4238
Fax: + 52 55 53 46 0908 (if a voice answers, ask “tono de fax, por favor”)
Electronic messages can be sent via the Attorney General’s website: http://www.pgr.gob.mx/servicios/mail/plantilla.asp?mail=1

Please also send copies of your appeals to the Mexican Embassy in your country.
See http://www.sre.gob.mx/index.php/representaciones/embajadas-de-mexico-en-el-exterior

***Please send appeals immediately. Check with PEN International if sending appeals after 22 June 2013.***

For further details please contact Tamsin Mitchell at the Writers in Prison Committee London Office: PEN International, Brownlow House, 50-51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER Tel: +44 (0) 207 405 0338 Fax +44 (0) 207 405 0339 email: tamsin.mitchell@pen-international.org