Mexico’s provincial journalists debate protection
24 Sep 10

Mexico continues to be an important destination for press freedom organisations. The Inter American Press Association and the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists visited Mexico this week to promote legal changes on the prosecution of crimes against journalists, and a protection plan for journalists under threat, similar to the one implemented in Colombia in early 2000. Under current law, murder cases are presided over by provincial authorities, and international groups have been pushing for crimes against journalists to be brought under the federal government´s control. President Felipe Calderon told both groups he will put in place a government sanctioned plan to protect journalists, which will include early warning alerts, extension of the statute of limitations for crimes against journalists, a programme to transfer threatened journalists to other residences, police protection for threatened reporters, and establishment of a government-media group that would identify motives behind attacks on the press.

IAPA, meanwhile, gave a vote of confidence to Calderón’s protection plan, but warned about a lack of resources for putting the plan into action.”There aren’t necessary resources to cover the magnitude of the problem,” the IAPA Vice President, Gonzalo Marroquín.

The group held a public meeting at Casa Lamm, a grand old house located in the Colonia Roma of Mexico City, where editors from Ciudad Juarez, Coahuila, Sinaloa, Tijuana and Zacatecas told the meeting that they practiced self censorship. Some of the editors were told the group that they would not accept government protection. “How can we ask the government to protect us if they cant protect themselves” Ismael Bojorquez, editor of Rio Doce, Sinaloa asked rethorically .”They can’t protect themselves,” he added, mentioning that a number of state government officials have been killed in Sinaloa.

The debate over protection measures for journalists in Mexico will continue, especially because journalists in the provincial cities, called states in Mexico, need to understand how these measures will work.