Saturday, July 11, 2009

Mexico: ARTICLE 19 Submission to UN Human Rights Committee

Mexico: ARTICLE 19 Submission to UN Human Rights Committee

ARTICLE 19 has called attention to key freedom of expression issues in Mexico, including the State’s failure to protect journalist and human rights defenders from attacks, and a broadcasting system that fails to promote public interest broadcasting. These concerns are contained in a written Submission to the UN Human Rights Committee (HRC) for consideration at its 96th session in Geneva from 13-31 July 2009. ARTICLE 19’s Submission is due to be read in conjunction with the Government of Mexico’s fifth periodic report to the HRC, under the provisions of Article 40 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.


ARTICLE 19’s Submission highlights the following concerns:

  1. Violence against those who exercise their right to freedom of expression is increasing throughout the country and there is a lack of adequate rules and institutions to address these attacks, leading to a prevailing climate of impunity.
  2. There is an inadequate framework for broadcast regulation, which lacks independence from government, does not foster pluralism in the airwaves and has failed to prevent monopolies in the media.
  3. A prevalence of obstacles exists in relation to implementation of the right to information law, particularly at the local and state level.
  4. Criminal defamation laws continue to exist in 21 of the 32 Mexican states.


ARTICLE 19’s key recommendations to the Mexican government are:

  • Effective measures should be put in place to respond to attacks – which are carried out in order to limit freedom of expression – on journalists and others. Investigations into attacks should be undertaken by federal powers and it is important to promote the federalisation of these investigations. The Special Prosecutor’s Office for the Attention of Crimes against Journalists (FEADP) should also be strengthened so that it is able to investigate and take action against attacks.
  • The legal framework for broadcasting should be fundamentally revised to bring it into line with international standards in this area, including by imposing limits on the concentration of media ownership and by enabling community and independent public service broadcasting.
  • All right to information laws in Mexico, at the state and federal levels, should be amended to bring them into line with Article 6 of the Constitution, guaranteeing the right to information. This article must also be respected in practice, when implementing these laws.
  • Defamation should be fully decriminalised in all Mexican states. Civil defamation rules should place the onus on public officials to prove the falsity of allegations of fact, should require public officials to tolerate a greater degree of criticism, and should impose overall limits on damage awards.


NOTES TO EDITORS:


• For more information please contact: Cynthia C├írdenas, Legal Adviser, cynthiac@article19.org, +52 55 10546500.
• ARTICLE 19’s Submission to the Mexico Country Report Task Force of the Human Rights Committee is available at: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrc/hrcs96.htm.
• The Government of Mexico presented its report to the Human Rights Committee in compliance with Article 40 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), in September 2008. Article 40 stipulates that States Parties to the Covenant must submit reports on the measures they have adopted to give effect to the rights recognised by the ICCPR.

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