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Mexico: Senate Approves Attacking Journalists A Federal Crime

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The federal senate’s 95 members yesterday unanimously passed an amendment to article 73 of the constitution allowing the federal courts and investigators to deal with crimes that threaten the work of journalists and freedom of information. The amendment was already approved by the lower house last November.

The amendment says: “The federal authorities will also be able to try crimes under state jurisdiction when they are linked to federal crimes or when they are crimes against journalists, persons or installations that affect, limit or impinge on the right to information or the freedoms of expression and publication.”

As a result, the Special Prosecutor’s Office for Crimes against Freedom of Expression (FEADLE) will now have greater judicial powers. The new Special Prosecutor, Laura Angelina Borbolla Moreno, received Reporters Without Borders on the eve of yesterday’s senate vote.

“We hail the act of awareness and political will that this amendment symbolizes,” Reporters Without Borders said. “But it has taken three years of debates to arrive at its adoption at the federal level and its implementation still depends on its approval by at least 17 of Mexico’s 32 states. The next phase will be a test for the local authorities, who are often involved in violence against journalists and news organizations.

“This belated reform does not in any way compensate for the 80 journalists killed and 14 missing in the past decade, a toll exacerbated during the current – and soon to end – presidential term by a federal offensive against drug trafficking that has left more than 50,000 dead. Will justice be rendered after so many years of impunity and suffering? The new federal government that is elected in July should not forget this duty. One way will be to make more investigative resources available to the FEADLE.”

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