The Assembly of Delegates of International PEN, meeting at its 74th International Congress in Bogota, Colombia, from 17 to 22 September 2008.
Mexico, already one of the most dangerous places in the world to work as a journalist, has seen a shocking rise in violence and deadly attacks on print journalists over the past year:
In the last six months of 2007, PEN recorded 25 attacks against print journalists in Mexico, ranging from killings and disappearances, to death threats and violence;
In the first six months of 2008, PEN recorded 32 new attacks, with 4 killed, 1 disappeared, 1 imprisoned, 2 briefly detained, 8 threatened with death, 11 attacked physically, 1 bomb threat against newspaper staff, 1 individual journalist threatened, and 4 harassed;
Federal and state government officials and police are a major perpetrator of violence against journalists in Mexico, together accounting for 38 per cent of attacks in 2007, while a further 29 per cent were found to be linked to organised crime or so-called “parallel powers”, particularly drug cartels ;
80 per cent of journalists who suffered attack in Mexico in 2007 had received threats beforehand , and were evidently not offered sufficient protection in response to those threats;
Impunity reigns for these crimes against journalists:
Despite the creation of the Special Prosecutor’s Office to for Crimes against Journalists (Fiscalía Especial para la Atención de Delitos Cometidos contra Periodistas, FEADP) in early 2006, few of the perpetrators have been arrested and to date there have been no successful prosecutions;
Efforts to act on a national level are impeded by the fact that murder and assault are state rather than federal crimes, and the federal government has no automatic right to intervene in these cases .
In a meeting with the Committee to Protect Journalists on 9 June 2008, President Felipe Calderón pledged his commitment to federalize crimes against freedom of expression, and draft legislation is promised for September 2008 to amend Article 73 of Mexico’s political constitution to federalize crimes against freedom of expression;
THEREFORE calls on federal, state, and local governments in Mexico to:
Provide immediate, adequate and ongoing protection for journalists who receive threats and promote an atmosphere of safety and security for all writers and journalists in Mexico;
Identify, arrest, and hold accountable all those who are responsible for attacks on journalists, especially all members of the military and federal, state and local police forces who have participated in or abetted such attacks;
Strengthen the Special Prosecutors Office for Crimes against Journalists (Fiscalía Especial para la Atención de Delitos Cometidos contra Periodistas, FEADP) and grant it the required independence and resources necessary to investigate such crimes;
Amend Article 73 of Mexico’s political constitution to make crimes against freedom of expression federal crimes so that the Special Prosecutors Office for Crimes against Journalists and other federal authorities have the necessary tools to carry out successful prosecutions of all those responsible for these crimes.
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