2016: Mexico: Héctor de Mauleón

MEXICO: Journalist and writer Héctor de Mauleón threatened for investigative reports. Norwegian PEN and the WiPC urge the Mexican government to urgently investigate the threats against de Mauléon and punish those responsible.  Read our letter to the Mexican authorities below: 

Mexico City Attorney General’s Office
Mexico City Government
Ministry of the Interior
Special Prosecutor for Crimes Against Freedom of Expression

Dear Sirs,

PEN International, Norwegian PEN and The Norwegian Writers in Prison Committee are concerned with the recent threats received by award-winning journalist and author Héctor de Mauléon for a series of investigative reports he wrote in El Universal on alleged drugs and weapons dealing by a group called the Asamblea de Barrios in Mexico City.

The threats are sent via social media and have increased since de Mauléon’s third piece in June 2016. On June 22nd a raid was carried out by the Mexico City Attorney General’s Office.

PEN International and Norwegian PEN ask you to urgently investigate the threats against de Mauléon and punish those responsible. We urge you to ensure the safety of de Mauléon and other Mexican journalist so they can carry out their work without censorship and fear. Please put an end to the harassment of Mexican journalist for their work and protect their right to freedom of speech.

Yours sincerely,
Mari Moen Holsve

Member of Writers in Prison Committee
Norwegian PEN

COPY: The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The Mexican Embassy in Norway

2015 Mexico: José Moisés Sánchez Cerezo & Mario Alberto Crespo Ayón

Ambassador
Luis Javier Campuzano Piña
Mexico Embassy to Norway
E-mail: embnoruega@sre.gob.mx

 

Oslo, 13th January 2015

 

Fate of missing journalists must be clarified

The recent disappearance of two journalists in Mexico highlights ongoing concerns about the safety of journalists in the country, PEN International notifies. Newspaper editor José Moisés Sánchez Cerezo was reported missing in Veracruz state in early January 2015, while Mario Alberto Crespo Ayón, a TV reporter and former print journalist from Sinaloa state, has not been seen since early December 2014.  Norwegian PEN is calling on the Mexican authorities to investigate these disappearances, clarify the fate of the two journalists and to bring any perpetrators to justice.

In order to ensure that any possible links to their work are prioritised, the investigations should be led by the Special Prosecutor for Crimes Against Freedom of Expression (Fiscal Especial para la Atención de Delitos cometidos en contra de la Libertad de Expresión – FEADLE).

At least 11 other print journalists have gone missing in the last decade – a quarter of them from Veracruz state.  They are among thousands of similarly disappeared people in the country. In most cases, the authorities have failed to clarify their fate, thereby violating their obligations under international law.  The federal government of Enrique Peña Nieto, which came to power in December 2012, has implemented some measures to recognise the scale of the problem, to improve attempts to clarify the fate of victims and investigate those responsible. However, the scale of involvement of state agents in enforced disappearance in the country has still to be acknowledged.

Working as a journalist in Mexico is fraught with danger as the country faces spiralling levels of violence, much of it stemming from drug cartels and the government’s armed offensive against them. At least 61 journalists have been murdered in the last 10 years; Veracruz is again among the worst offenders for journalist killings, along with Tamaulipas, Guerreo and Chihuahua. Very few – if any – of these murders have been satisfactorily resolved.
Background
On 2 January 2015, José Moisés Sánchez Cerezo was abducted from his home in Medellín de Bravo, Veracruz state, by a group of heavily armed men. His abductors also seized his computer, camera and mobile telephone before bundling him into one of three vehicles. He has not been seen or heard from since.

Sánchez, aged 49, is the owner and editor of La Unión, a free weekly print and digital newspaper circulated in communities surrounding Medellín de Bravo, Veracruz; he reportedly also works as a taxi driver. Active in his local community and involved in the local neighbourhood watch group, he has often been critical of the local authorities’ track record in tackling crime both in his articles and on Facebook, according to reports.

Recently, Sánchez had reported on – and participated in – recent protests against alleged abuses carried out by the mayor of Medellín de Bravo. Three days before his abduction, on 30 December, Sánchez was warned to stop his reporting by an unidentified man who approached his home, according to his son. His family are reported to believe that Sánchez was been targeted for these articles and have linked the mayor to the incident. However, the mayor denied any involvement in a public statement made on 5 January and confirmed that he would cooperate with the investigation into the disappearances, according to news reports.  A month earlier, Mario Alberto Crespo Ayón, a former print journalist currently working for Uno TV, disappeared after leaving his home in Matazlán, Sinaloa state, on 3 December 2014. Shortly before, Crespo spoke with family members on the telephone and arranged to meet his girlfriend later that day. Family members have attempted to call his mobile telephone; however it appears to be switched off. His family reported his disappearance to the attorney general’s office. Crespo has previously worked for the newspapers Noroeste, Primera Hora and Línea Directa.

Mexico is a state party to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. Enforced disappearance is defined as ‘the arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person’. Disappearance is a term used when there is evidence that the victim was abducted and their whereabouts remain unknown, but there is no evidence that state agents were involved either directly or indirectly.

Under the Convention, states have an obligation to accept reports of enforced disappearances and undertake prompt, thorough and impartial investigations. In addition, states must also investigate all disappearances carried out by people acting without the authorization, support or acquiescence of the state. In other words, in cases of disappearances and enforced disappearances, the state has an obligation to establish the whereabouts of the victim; bring to justice the perpetrators; and ensure victims or their relatives receive reparations.

In December 2011, the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances said, in a report on a mission to Mexico: ‘The chronic pattern of impunity still exists in cases of enforced disappearance and sufficient efforts are not being made to determine the fate or whereabouts of persons who have disappeared, to punish those responsible and to guarantee the right to the truth and reparation.’

Yours sincerely,

Ms Brit Bildøen
Chair of Writers in Prison Committee
Norwegian PEN

COPY: The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Mexico: Bloggere risikerer livet for å dokumentere krig mot narkotika

We will tell you as much as we can about why we chose to create and maintain Blog del Narco without revealing any identifying information about ourselves. When we began this blog, we knew we’d receive death threats, but recently, they’ve become more serious.

Shortly before we completed this book, two people – a young man and woman who worked with us – were disemboweled and hung off a bridge in Tamaulipas, a state in the north of Mexico. Large handwritten signs, known as narcobanners, next to their bodies mentioned our blog, and stated that this was what happened to internet snitches. The message concluded with a warning that we were next.

A few days later, they executed another journalist in Tamaulipas who regularly sent us information. The assassins left keyboards, a mouse, and other computer parts strewn across her body, as well as a sign that mentioned our blog again.

However, we refuse to be intimidated. Until writing this, we have never confirmed that we knew these people, so as not to let the narcoterrorists think we are scared or influenced in any way by their threats. We would never give criminals that satisfaction.

Yet the attacks continue. In the last four days, they’ve sent us photos of nine people, dead, with messages on their skin that read: «You’re next, BDN.»

So why do we refuse to stop?

Because we want a better Mexico. We want this nightmare to end for the decent and hard-working people here. A lot of things have been said of Mexicans, but most of us are simply poor people who break our backs working. We leave our homes at five in the morning and don’t come back until midnight. Instead of hoping to grow and prosper so our families can have better lives, all we want is to make it home alive. And that’s heartbreaking. The war against drug cartels and the resulting battles over drug-trafficking routes to the United States, once fought almost solely among cartel members, has destroyed the lives of millions of innocent men, women, and children.

The decision to start the blog emerged out of a chance conversation between a computer scientist and a young journalist in early 2010. We began talking about politics, and soon turned to the irresponsibility of officeholders who were silencing and spinning the news about Mexico’s drug war. So many of our friends were telling us they were taking trips to the beaches of Mazatlán in Sinaloa on the Pacific ocean for their vacation or to Tamaulipas on the Atlantic coast, completely unaware of the danger and the risk. Meanwhile, those who’d seen the horror firsthand had no place to share their stories and tell others about what was happening.

In talking, we discovered that, between the two of us, we’d been carjacked, robbed, and tortured. Our uncles, fathers, and loved ones, none of them involved with drugs or the cartels, had been kidnapped. These extortions decimated our families both emotionally and financially, and not all of our loved ones made it back alive. Even a four-year-old relative came back from preschool one day and said: «Hey, there was a shootout today. Bad guys were shooting at each other. Then some men came into my classroom and said we should stay quiet, and everyone cried.»

These things were happening to so many people we knew. It infuriated us as victims, as Mexicans, and as human beings. So we finally said: «Hey, why don’t we do this? We have the two things we need: one of us is great with computers and the other has experience gathering information. Why stay quiet?»

It was time to leave our indifference behind, to yank open a window and enable citizens, with no shades or blinds, to observe the harsh reality around them.

From the beginning, we knew that we couldn’t share our activities with family or friends, lest we put them at risk. Secretly, we began to invest time and money in the blog, without expecting any financial reward in return. We just wanted to post unfiltered, uncensored news about the government’s war with the narcogangsters, about the shootouts, decapitations, and other bloody acts taking place on a daily basis.

These were events that print journalists and TV news anchors in Mexico should have been reporting to citizens, but their voices had largely been silenced. Unable to manage the cartels, politicians were finding it much easier to manage the local and national media. Because of censorship, threats and assassinations, publishers, editors, writers, journalists, cameramen, news anchors, and anyone involved in mainstream media were downplaying the crisis engulfing their nation.

As a journalist, you couldn’t say that two children – eight and 10 years old – had been executed and found in a box, because it wasn’t allowed. Potentially lifesaving news reports warning citizens to stay out of areas where shootouts, carjackings, and blockades were occurring were rare. But these things continued to happen. Meanwhile, politicians’ promises of safety for their constituents failed to crystallize into results, and people felt frustrated and impotent amid the surging terror.

Not only were government officials in bed with the media; so were the drug cartels. Unscrupulous reporters referred to drug kingpins as businessmen, giving new meaning to the noun. Why would renowned journalists use such a legitimizing word? The answer was simple: gifts from high-end shops regularly showed up on their doorsteps.

Mounting distrust of traditional media – now enslaved by two masters, politicians and traffickers – brought people by the thousands to Blog del Narco. The promise of anonymity spurred people from all walks of life to send us eyewitness accounts of atrocities, as well as pictures snapped on their mobile phones, so that we could circulate material unavailable elsewhere. We received information from soldiers, police officers, mothers, businessmen, students, workers, journalists, even cartel gunmen.

As this steady flow of exclusive news strengthened the bond of trust with our audience, it strengthened the vitriol of our enemies. These people were not seeking to establish a dialogue; they wanted to kill us. These are individuals accustomed to getting rid of any problem that annoys them. And we had become the problem. With this blog, we had signed our own death warrants.

The site suffered hundreds of cyberattacks, and our in-box began to receive more and more threats from traffickers, various authorities, and other detractors. Even Google México, directly after hosting an «Ask the President» chat, blocked our site on their Blogger network.

So each day we were forced to dedicate more hours to keeping the site online and fed with information. It had become as demanding as a child, leaving no time for personal relationships. At the same time, we were forced to take greater measures to protect ourselves. We changed phone numbers, moved, and distanced ourselves from friends and family. We planned our days carefully and avoided any type of routine, which, if detected, could have meant our demise. When you’re an outgoing person, it’s hard to keep secrets from members of your social circle, but the support and contributions of our readers reaffirmed our commitment to forge ahead.

Then came defamation. Most of the Mexican media shunned us. Some reporters spread lies that DTOs (drug trafficking organizations) wrote Blog del Narco; others that they bankrolled the site. We have never favored or opposed any criminal group; we’ve simply told the truth to the best of our abilities. Although we had no target audience other than the Mexican people, over time international security firms, governments of other countries, and nongovernmental organizations began monitoring Blog del Narco.

We’ve even been offered hundreds of thousands of dollars for the blog by the Mexican media, but have refused to sell it because we believe they want to buy it for a reason. And that reason is not to keep people informed.

Along the way, we’ve received criticism for the graphic and jolting photographs and videos featured in Blog del Narco. However, we never publish images for the shock value. Because the cartels recruit their sicarios (or gunmen) in one state, then transport them to a distant location to prevent family members from knowing if and when they have been killed, publishing the faces of unidentified victims enhanced the possibility that loved ones might recognize and claim the body. This is particularly important since corpses deteriorate rapidly in most morgues, and are then quickly deposited in mass graves.

The other reason we published the photos and videos was to show the undistorted reality of the situation, and put a halt to the glamorization of drug kingpins by Mexican children, young adults, and the entertainment industry. Fantasies of money and luxury obtained by entering the underworld have made impressionable teenagers easy targets for recruitment by drug syndicates. Cartel bosses have even sent us photographs of themselves partying with pop stars and living glamorously; these we’ve refused to publish.

Fortunately, these decisions have yielded positive results. We receive daily emails from people saying they stopped selling drugs because they didn’t want their relatives to see them decapitated on our blog, or they didn’t want their nine-month-old baby to be killed (which recently happened in the state of Veracruz). Meanwhile, citizens tell us that they are now forming their own opinions about the drug war, rather than accepting the standard government story, and making efforts to stay safe and move out of dangerous areas.

In other blogposts, we’ve discovered corruption cases, including some documented on video that the authorities tried to sweep under the carpet. By exposing them to millions of citizens, who then demanded action from men and women in positions of public trust, officials who had previously avoided accountability were forced to respond.

In 2012, Blog del Narco recorded an average of 25 million monthly hits and was ranked among the 100 most-visited websites in Mexico by Alexa’s search rankings, and in the top 4000 for the world. In the process, our workload tripled, as did the danger. We hope to be alive long enough to hold this book in our hands. It’s very hard to write that we may have been killed by the time you read this. Our voices are shaking as we talk about it. But it’s our reality. And we’d prefer to end our lives this way rather than live with the knowledge that we didn’t do anything at all for our country.

If we are not here tomorrow or next week or next month, please spread the message that we should not fear those in power. We are Mexico, we are good, and there are more of us.

 

PEN International’s kongress vedtar viktige resolusjoner

Resolutions from PEN International´s 78th world Congress in Gyeongju, Korea, 9th to 15th September 2012.

Bahrain

The Assembly of Delegates of PEN International, meeting at its 78th World Congress in Gyeongju, Korea, 9th to 15th September 2012

On 4 September 2012, the High Court of Appeal in Bahrain confirmed the convictions of thirteen human rights defenders, bloggers and activists serving time in prison and seven others tried in absentia. They include human rights defender Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and academic, blogger and human rights activist Dr. Abduljalil Al-Singace, who had been sentenced by a special security court on 22 June 2011 to life imprisonment. They are targeted for calling for political reform and for their reporting on human rights abuses in the country.

Despite the Bahraini’s government much publicised commitments to political reform, little meaningful action has been taken to implement reforms and ensure accountability. Violations are ongoing and peaceful opposition activists remain behind bars. Significant structural impediments to freedom of expression remain in place, and the authorities have denied or severely restricted access for international rights groups, including PEN International.

The Assembly of Delegates of PEN International, meeting at its 78th World  Congress in Geongju, Korea, 9th  to 15th September 2012

Protests the decision by the High Court of Appeal in Bahrain to uphold the harsh sentences against Dr Abduljalil Al-Singace and Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and others solely for peacefully exercising their right to free expression;

Calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all those currently detained in Bahrain solely for the peaceful expression their opinions, including Dr Al-Singace, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and Nabeel Rajab;

Demands a full independent investigation into allegations that all three men have been tortured and ill-treated in detention, and to end the culture of impunity by bringing the perpetrators of torture and ill-treatment to justice;

Urges the Bahraini authorities to abide by their obligations under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and to renew its commitments to freedom of expression as articulated in the National Action Charter of Bahrain of 2001 by enacting or amending appropriate legislation to eliminate all restrictions upon the freedom of the press, including criminal penalties.

BELARUS

The Assembly of Delegates of PEN International, meeting at its 78th World Congress in Gyeongju, Korea, 9th to 15th September 2012

On 4 August 2011, the writer and human rights defender Ales Bialiastki was arrested in Minsk, charged with tax evasion, charges which stemmed from his reported use of personal bank accounts in Lithuania and Poland to receive funding from international donors for Vyasna’s human rights activities in Belarus.  His detention since August 2011 is as a direct result of his legitimate activities in defence of human rights in Belarus.  On 24 November 2011, Ales Bialiatski was sentenced to 4.5 years imprisonment with the confiscation of his property, including the property registered with other persons, on charges of tax evasion.  On January 24, 2012, the cassation appeal against the verdict of the Pershamaiski District Court of Minsk, of Ales Bialiatski, left the sentence in force: 4.5 years imprisonment in a higher security colony and confiscation of properties. The latter disregards the fact that all the taxes and penalties imposed on him had been fully paid by the time of the appeal hearing.

Ales Bialiatski is head of the Human Rights Centre “Viasna” in Belarus, Vice-president of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and one of the founders of the Belarusian Human Rights House in exile.  Vyasna has campaigned for scores of opposition activists persecuted by the government of President Alexsander Lukashenko. It was stripped of its official registration in 2003, making it extremely difficult under Belarus’s economic laws to raise funds. The condemnation of Ales Bialiatski illustrates how seriously threatened freedom of association and freedom of expression are in Belarus.

Another member of Belarus PEN  Pavel Seviarynets, also an opposition activist and author of several books, was arrested in December 2010 for his involvement in protests was sentenced to three years in a “correctional institution”, a type of open prison where he will remain until the end of 2013.

These and other cases are emblematic of the type of pressure faced by writers and journalists who speak out.

PEN International calls upon Belarusian authorities to:

• Immediately release and drop all charges against human rights defender Ales Bialiatsky and Pavel Seviarynets; to fully rehabilitate him and to ensure unhampered activities of human rights and other civil society organizations
• Release all political prisoners and allow for free, democratic elections
• Stop censoring the internet and allow for a free, democratic exchange of ideas and opinions

 

Cambodia

The Assembly of Delegates of PEN International, meeting at its 78th World Congress in Geongju, Korea, 9th to 15th September 2012

Cambodia: On July 15, 2012, journalist, human rights activist, and director of the independent Beehive Radio Station Mam Sonado was arrested and is now standing trial on charges of insurrection. Mr. Mam Sonado is accused of inciting villagers in Kratie province in northeastern Cambodia to protest a government order to seize land in the village and transfer it to a private holding company. There are about 100 families in the village. A teenage girl was shot dead by authorities during that protest. Mr. Mom Sonado has never been to Kratie province and does not know any of the villagers, and was abroad in France when the protest took place. He has, however, been a vocal critic of forced evictions and «land grabs» in Cambodia, and has been jailed twice previously for speaking out against the increasingly common practice of appropriating property in Cambodia. PEN believes his current trial is the latest in a series of actions by the Cambodia government aimed at silencing Mr. Mam Sonado for exercising his universally-guaranteed right to freedom of expression.

Mr. Mam Sonado’s trial comes amid rising concerns over the climate for freedom of expression in Cambodia, where government critics are the target of intimidation and harassment and often accused of being members of opposition parties, and where at least 10 writers, journalists, and activists have been killed since the 1990s and many more have been forced into exile. In addition, several writers have been prosecuted under criminal defamation laws aimed at silencing government critics, and a climate of impunity prevails. In this environment, Mr. Mam Sonado has been a brave defender of the right of all Cambodians to freedom of expression. Beehive Radio is one of just two independent media centers that have programs that allow individuals from all walks of life the raise their voices and express their concerns about their lives and their country. Prosecuting Mr. Mam Sonado is likely to have a chilling on independent media in Cambodia and further shrink the space where Cambodia’s citizens can participate in discussions and debates about policies and issues that affect their lives.

Mr. Mam Sonado, who is 70 years old, has reportedly contracted a serious respiratory infection in prison, and there are serious concerns about his health.

PEN International therefore calls on the government of Cambodia to:

– Drop the current charges against Mr. Mam Sonado and facilitate his immediate and unconditional release
– End the intimidation of critical voices in Cambodia and take affirmative steps to protect the right of writers, journalists, and all Cambodian citizens to full freedom of expression.

 

CHINA

The Assembly of Delegates of PEN International, meeting at its 78th World Congress in Gyeongju, Korea, 9th to 15th September 2012

Welcomes the release of HUANG Jinqiu, TANG Cailong, ZUO Xiaohua,WANG Xiaoming  and GAO Chunlian, either on bail or due to sentence reduction, since the last Congress of PEN International in September 2011.

Also welcomes the progress in amending the Criminal Procedure Law by the National People’s Congress in March 2012, with the insertions of the constitutional principle of “respect and protect human rights” and a sentence of “authorities shall protect the defense right and other procedural rights legally enjoyed by criminal suspects, defendants, and other litigation participants” into its General Provision, and with the corresponding revisions of a large number of the terms and conditions for the rights protection.

Considers the continuous suppression of the right to freedom of expression throughout China, from its capital city of Beijing to the inland provinces of Sichuan, Guizhou and Huibei, to the coastal province of Zhejiang, to the Autonomous Regions of Tibet, Xinjiang, and Inner Mongolia.

Alarmed by the relentless harassment of and attacks against Chinese intellectuals, particularly the arbitrary arrests of online bloggers and journalists, over 40 of whom are currently imprisoned, including the sentencing of CHEN Wei (9 years), CHEN Xi (10 years), LI Tie (10 years) and ZHU Yufu (7 years), making China one of the largest jailers of writers and journalists in the world.

Worried about the growing censorship of the Internet throughout the country, including the popular social network websites Twitter and Facebook.

Disturbed by the continuous use of administrative detention, including the infamous “Re-education Through Labour” (RTL) system, to jail dissident writers for up to 3 years without the due process guaranteed under its own laws.

Further disturbed by the increasing misuse of China’s Criminal Law to arbitrarily charge dissident writers, outspoken journalists and independent publishers with criminal offences to suppress freedom of expression and the press, in particular “endangering national security”, “(inciting) subversion of state power”, “(inciting) split of country” , “illegally holding/leaking state secrets”, and “illegal business practices” or alleged “economic crimes”;

Even further disturbed by the recent amendments to the Criminal Procedure Law which allow police to hold a suspect without informing a relative of either charge or whereabouts as long as they wish, possibly over a year, until there is an open trial.

Shocked by the increasing persecution of Independent Chinese PEN Centre (ICPC) members, including the ongoing imprisonment of LIU Xiaobo (11 years), SHI Tao (10 years), YANG Tongyan (12 years), and ZHU Yufu (7 years); the interrogation, harassment, threats, attacks, brief detentions, meeting and travel restrictions, passport rejections, and the work and life interruptions of more than 50 members.

PEN International therefore urges the government of the People’s Republic of China to:

• Stop the harassment and persecution of ICPC members, and lift all restrictions on their freedom to exit and enter mainland China, particularly to attend PEN International conferences and to return home;
• Cease its efforts to censor cyberspace and to immediately release all Internet writers jailed for peacefully expressing their opinions;
• Release all those in the autonomous regions of Tibet, Xinjiang Uyghur and Inner Mongolia who have been detained in violation of their right to freedom of expression,
• Release all imprisoned writers and journalists in China
• Ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which was signed by the People’s Republic of China in October 1998;
• Engage in a complete and meaningful reform of the Chinese legal system in accordance with international standards and its own Constitution to guarantee fair trials, the full rights of defence and appeal, the legal practices of attorneys, and a prison system that ensures the health and safety of inmates; particularly to cease the practice of using the charge of “subversion” against writers and of “holding/leaking state secrets” against journalists; and to abandon the infamous RTL system.

CUBA

The Assembly of Delegates of PEN International, meeting at its 78th World Congress in Gyeongju, Korea, 9th to 15th September 2012

Despite the recent release from prison of political prisoners, the government of Cuba continues to arrest, harass and physically attack writers, journalists, bloggers and independent librarians, as well as opponents peacefully struggling for human rights, such as the Ladies in White. This new wave of repression includes the kidnapping of activists, keeping them incommunicado in political police buildings, and only setting them free after alleged torture and under threat of a judicial writ indicating that they will be imprisoned if they continue those activities.

Furthermore, the government of Cuba keeps in force Law 88 from 1999, setting prison terms of more than 20 years for dissidents who claim peacefully their right to freedom of expression. Also, it keeps in force the Law of Security of Information, limiting internet information access to independent journalists.

The Cuban government, contravening Article 13 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights denies travel permits to writers and journalists to enable them to receive international awards, as is the case of blogger Yoani Sánchez, who obtained the María Moors Cabot Award in 2009.

These attacks on free expression in Cuba have been condemned by several non-governmental rights and press organisations, including the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, which reported 3,645 short-term detentions in the first half of 2012, the Inter-American Society for the Press, the Committee to Protect Journalists and the United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT).
:
PEN International therefore urges the government of Cuba to:

• Abstain from the arrest, physical attack and harassment of writers, journalists, bloggers and independent librarians for their practice of their right to freedom of expression;
• Allow the use of means of social communications such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs and other possible future technological means;
• Free the remaining political prisoners still serving terms in Cuba;
• Abolish Law 88 of 1999 and the Law of Security;
• Comply with Articles 12 and 19 of the International Convention on Political and Civil Rights, signed by Cuba on February 2008.

 

ERITREA

The Assembly of Delegates of PEN International, meeting at its 78th World Congress in Seoul, South Korea, 9 September to 15 September 2012

ERITREA: September 23, 2012 the journalist, playwright and writer Dawit Isaak has been in Eritrean prison for eleven years. Despite many efforts to raise his case at the international level, Dawit remains a long term prisoner of conscience.

Eleven years ago, Mr. Isaak was detained with a large number of other journalists, writers and opposition politicians after his newspaper published a letter which criticized President Isaias Afewerki. Despite serious concerns for their health and well-being, Isaak and his colleagues have reportedly been held without charge or trial in extremely harsh conditions ever since. At least four of the journalists arrested with Isaak are believed to have died during their detention and, according to news reports in 2012, only 15 out of the original 35 political prisoners held at Eira Eiro prison camp, where Isaak is allegedly detained, remain alive. Since 2005 there has been no certain confirmation of Mr. Isaak being alive, and 2011 it was even reported that Mr. Isaak had died. This rumour has neither been denied or confirmed by the authorities, and PEN International refuses to believe it’s true. Three more were confirmed dead last week.

Dawit Isaak was born in Eritrea in 1964. He immigrated to Sweden as a refugee from Eritrea’s War of Independence in 1987 and became a Swedish citizen five years later. When Eritrea gained independence in 1993, Isaak returned to his native country and became a part-owner of Setit, the country’s first independent newspaper.

PEN International is deeply concerned by the reported deaths of Dawit Isaak’s colleagues, and by a longstanding lack of medical treatment at the prisons where he has been held.

PEN International calls on the government of Eritrea:

• To honour its obligations under international law by granting the International Committee of the Red Cross, or some other reputable and independent organization, access to Mr. Isaak and those detained with him;
• To confirm and prove that Mr. Isaak is still alive;
• To provide independent assessments of their health and any medical treatment they require;
• To grant the immediate and unconditional release of Dawit Isaak and the at least 15 other Eritreans who have also been imprisoned for their writings since 2001.

Ethiopia

The Assembly of Delegates of PEN International, meeting at its 78th World Congress in Gyeongju, Korea, 9th to 15th September, 2012

ETHIOPIA: On June 27, 2012, the Ethiopian high court convicted Ethiopian journalist Eskinder Nega on charges of “conspiracy to commit terrorist acts” for the peaceful and lawful practice of his profession. On July 13, 2012, Eskinder was sentenced to 18 years in prisonLike many of his colleagues in the independent media in Ethiopia, Eskinder Nega has been the target of constant harassment since he began his career in 1993. In 2005 he and his journalist wife Serkalem Fasil were imprisoned for 17 months on treason charges for their critical reporting on the government’s violent crackdown of protests following disputed elections. When he was released he was banned from journalism. He refused to be silenced, publishing reports and essays on online media—most notably, reports critical of the Ethiopian government’s human rights record and its use of an overly-broad anti-terrorism law to prosecute journalists.  Now Eskinder stands as the latest victim of this troubling practice.

At least 5 journalists have been detained and 11 tried and convicted under the vaguely-worded Anti-Terrorism Proclamation of 2009, which includes provisions the government has increasingly used to jail peaceful opponents and critics. Independent newspapers are consistently shut down, and social media is monitored and often banned. As official hostility to a free press and peaceful dissent has grown in Ethiopia, at least 150 of Eskinder Nega’s colleagues in the independent media have been forced into exile.

PEN International therefore calls on the Ethiopian authorities to:

• Reverse Eskinder Nega’s conviction and immediately release all journalists who have been convicted under the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation of 2009 simply for exercising their right to freedom of expression
• Amend the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation of 2009 to ensure that its provision protect the right of Ethiopia’s citizens to exercise their right to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and full political participation
• End the intimidation and harassment of the independent media that has forced scores of Ethiopian journalists into exile.

 

Iran

The Assembly of Delegates of PEN International, meeting at its 78th World Congress in Gyeongju, Korea, 9th to 15th September 2012

Preamble: For decades there has been a widespread crackdown on peaceful political dissent across many aspects of civil society in Iran. Those targeted include writers and journalists, academics, women’s rights activists and human rights defenders. Separatist struggle places writers and journalists particularly at risk in Iran’s ethnic regions, and PEN International is alarmed at the number of Kurdish, Azeri and Arab journalists targeted for their critical reporting, peaceful activism and writings in support of their cultural and political rights. At least thirty writers are currently detained in Iran, many serving lengthy sentences, including Muhemed Sadigh Kaboudvand, Adnan Hassanpour, Abdolvahed “Hiva” Botimar, Nasrin Soutadeh and Shiva Ahari. Detainees are commonly held in poor conditions, without access to family, medical care and legal representation, and there are widespread reports of the use of torture. Trials commonly fall short of international standards of fairness.

The General Assembly of PEN International is:

Alarmed by the extensive violations of human rights in Iran, and the continued persecution facing writers and journalists who are particularly targeted by the Iranian regime for practicing their rights to free expression.

Concerned about the continuous policy of harassment of the Kurdish and Baluchi identity, language and culture depriving these groups from publishing, studying or developing their language.
PEN International calls upon the Iranian regime to:

• stop ill treatment and torture in Iranian prisons;
• stop the particular targeting of national groups such as the Kurds, Azeris, Arabs, Baluchi and Turkmen, and allowing them full practice of their cultural, linguistic and political rights;
• calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Muhemed Sadigh Kaboudvand, Adnan Hassanpour, Abdolvahed “Hiva” Botimar, Nasrin Soutadeh, Shiva Ahari, and all writers and journalists who have been arrested in Iran in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a signatory.

 

MEXICO

The Assembly of Delegates of PEN International, meeting at its 78th World Congress in Gyeongju, Korea, 9th to 15th September 2012

MEXICO: Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world in which to be a writer. Since 2006, at least 44 print journalists, writers and bloggers have been murdered in connection with their work; at least 9 others have disappeared. Of these attacks, very few have been thoroughly investigated. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, fewer than 10% of attacks against journalists and writers result in convictions. There is a considerable amount of evidence suggesting that state actors are often involved in attacks on journalists. In March 2012 the Special Prosecutor for Crimes Against Freedom of Expression publicly recognized that many of the threats to journalists’ right to free expression in Mexico came from the state authorities themselves.  PEN is appalled by the continuing litany of killings and threats and calls on the Mexican authorities to do all in their power to bring this to an end.

In January 2012, an international delegation of PEN leaders from the Americas, Europe and Asia went to Mexico in order to raise international awareness of the violence suffered there by writers and journalists. They underlined that Mexico’s commitment to protecting freedom of expression will only be measured by a reduction in attacks on journalists and writers, and on the prosecution and conviction of those who commit these crimes.

On 6 June 2012, Mexico finally approved an amendment to article 73 of the Mexican constitution that makes attacks on journalists a federal offence. This change in law will provide investigators with greater resources with which to pursue their work, and protect cases from the influence of corruption at local state level.

On 22 June 2012, President of Mexico, Felipe Calderón, signed into law a further amendment to article 73 that will oblige both federal and state authorities to protect the rights of journalists and human rights defenders.

PEN International calls on the Mexican authorities to:

• Swiftly approve the secondary legislation required for the effective implementation of the recent constitutional amendments, thereby ensuring that the new laws classifying attacks on journalists as federal crimes and affording journalists better protection, are put into practice on the ground.
• Demonstrate their commitment to freedom of expression by pursuing and prosecuting those responsible for attacks on journalists and writers.
• Acknowledge the role of state actors in violence against journalists and take concrete measures to address it;
• Tackle the corruption that is endemic at state level, and thereby remove a key cause of impunity in Mexico.

Further to the above, the Assembly of Delegates of PEN International calls on the United States of America, Canada and the European Union to:

• Place these attacks on Mexican writers and journalists on the foreign policy agenda by insisting that the above recommendations be implemented, and by conditioning future counternarcotics aid on the Mexican authorities taking genuine and effective action to redress serious human rights violations against journalists.
• Address their own countries’ role in drug consumption and in international

In session Resolution on Russia

Preamble
Recent months have seen a steep decline in the state of freedom of expression and the ability of society to act freely in Russia. The two year sentences served against Maria Alyokhiona, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Ekaterina Samusevich, members of the band, Pussy Riot, supposedly on “hooliganism” charges, are clearly a means through which to intimidate not only critics of President Putin, but also of the Orthodox church. The weight of the sentences for what in other countries, and indeed in earlier similar cases of civil disobedience tried by Russian courts, are seen as minor offences, makes this abundantly clear.

Earlier this year, the city of St Petersburg district a law banning “homosexual propaganda”, a law that could be used to penalise writings, plays, performances and other creative works. This brings the number of cities having such laws to four, and fears that they will spread to other cities in Russia. Commentators have pointed out that these laws have been passed on the initiative of the Orthodox Church, another indication of its growing influence  on the state.

Last month criminal libel was re-introduced only a year after it had been decriminalized only a year ago, part of a number of laws forced at great speed through parliament in July with acute negative effect on freedom of expression and association, leading to alarm at the growing authoritarianism.

Among the laws passed in July is the law “Regulating Activities of Non-commercial Organizations, which Carry Out Functions of Foreign Agents” that will demand that any organisation that is funded, or considering getting funding from abroad, to register with the Ministry of Justice as “carrying out functions of a foreign agent”. This only applies if the organisation is involved in political advocacy. This places enormous restraint on organisations in Russia, among them Russian PEN, under legislation using language resonant of the Cold War.

Alongside this, there has been no justice in most of the 53 killings of writers and journalists since 1992 (figs: Committee to Protect Journalists). Less than 10% of these killings have seen justice. Among them are journalist Anna Politkovskaya murdered in 2006, and her friend, human rights defender and reporter, Natalia Estemirova, killed in 2009. This not only grants a mantle of impunity for those who kill to silence, but does not bode well in this current climate where writers, journalists and artists who speak out are being identified by the state as traitors to the state and church, marking them as targets for gunmen.

The Assembly of Delegates of PEN International, meeting at its 78th World Congress in Geongju, Korea, 9th to 15th September, 2012

PEN International views with deep foreboding the growing authoritarianism in Russia. It calls on the Russian authorities to:
• Put an end to the arrest and sentencing of writers, journalists and artists who use words, performance and imagery to express their views on the society and politics in which they live;
• Review state and federal legislation that criminalises freedom of expression including through literature, the media and creative arts;
• To make it undeniably clear that the Russian government will not tolerate, let alone endorse, any threats of violence or actual attacks against its critics
• Illustrate its commitment to protect all its citizens against violence by speeding up the investigations into killings in recent years, and facilitating trial processes against those who kill writers, including those who orchestrate such murders, thus showing that the Russian state is able to provide justice and is not in thrall to criminals who are behind these atrocities;
Take note of the deep levels of concern of the impact that the  law on “foreign agents” will have on the capacity for Russia to have a well functioning, independent, civil society that is truly able to serve the Russian people, and to order a review of the legislation.

Syria

The Assembly of Delegates of PEN International, meeting at its 78th World Congress in Gyeongju, Korea, 9th to 15th September 2012..

Preamble

Repression of human rights, displacement of minorities and ethnic discrimination is not news in Syria, where writers, human rights defenders and political dissidents have been harassed and persecuted for years – throughout its decades of dictatorship freedom of speech has been severely restricted for writers and media people in Syria across ethnic, religious and linguistic barriers.

During the popular calls for democratic change 2011-2012, however, the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad has increased its repression, trying to stop non-violent demonstrations with barbarous force.

Contrary to its international obligations and commitments to UN human rights conventions, the Syrian dictatorship has made a horrendous effort to prevent writers and journalists, local as well international, from covering the crisis. Media people have been arrested without charge, many tortured, several killed.

Although promising the former special representative of the UN, Mr. Kofi Annan, that political prisoners would be released and that media would have free access to all parts of Syria, the Assad dictatorship continuously has prevented media people from entering the country and/or cities or provinces of crisis.

PEN International is well aware that non-governmental armed groups have become part of the Syrian crisis. It is however the responsibility of the Syrian government to ensure the safety of its people as well as human rights, including not the least freedom of speech – rather than answering political dissent with violent repression and meeting calls for freedom of speech with heavy-handed censorship.

PEN centres representing more than 20.000 writers, bloggers, journalists, editors and publishers from all over the world, convening at the 78th PEN International congress in Gyeongju, Korea, call on the government of Syria and all parties of the Syrian conflict to respect the principle of freedom of speech as well as other principles of human rights.

The government of Syria must immediately release and drop all charges against imprisoned writers and human rights defenders and ensure unhampered freedom of speech and unlimited freedom to human rights and other civil society organizations;

The government must ensure and protect free access to all parts of Syria to all representatives of media;

And the Syrian government must stop censoring the internet and allow for a free, democratic exchange of ideas and opinions.

We also call on all parties to the conflict, including the Syrian National Council, to ensure the cultural, political and linguistic rights of all the ethnic groups in Syria.

 

The Turkey Manifesto

PEN International calls for an overhaul of laws stifling Turkey’s writers and journalists

Turkey has an extraordinarily high number of writers and journalists in prison with many more on release pending trial. Most are held because of their alleged affiliation to or support of organisations that advocate violence. However, PEN is worried that this situation has emerged as a result of the amenability of Turkish courts to broad interpretations of anti-terror laws, empowering overzealous state prosecutors to pursue cases where no material links to terrorism exist.

As of  September 2012, scores of journalists were reported imprisoned in Turkey.  Such figures are difficult to confirm; the complexity and obfuscation surrounding these cases makes them difficult to monitor, while releases being made under the Third Judicial Reform Package passed in July are still ongoing.

The Turkish legal system imposes extremely long periods of pre-trial detention on suspects. We have on our records people who have still not been convicted after four years in prison. These conditions create an atmosphere of intimidation for writers and journalists, who risk lengthy spells in prison when they publish controversial but legitimate comment even if they’re never convicted.

Even in cases without pre-trial detention writers, journalists and publishers in Turkey face lengthy trials that may last for years. More often than not, these less serious cases end with acquittals or minor fines, indicating that the reasons for prosecution are not founded under Turkish law. It is hard not to conclude that those who bring these cases have little regard for the outcome, and in fact do so to harass and intimidate the authors and send warnings to others. The draining, debilitating effect on the defendants in these cases can be immense.

In addition to the Anti-Terror Law, freedom of expression is suppressed under numerous other laws including  obscenity, praising offences or offenders, inciting the population to (usually religious) hatred and insulting Turkishness.  Legitimate political comment regarding public officials is also challenged through defamation cases.

THE SITUATION IS UNTENABLE AND REQUIRES IMMEDIATE RESPONSE. THE TURKISH GOVERNMENT MUST:

1. Order the review of all cases of imprisoned writers, journalists and publishers held and on trial under the Anti-Terror Law to ensure that none are being penalized for the legitimate practice of their rights  to peaceful freedom of expression and association.

2. Make much needed changes to the country’s draconian Anti-Terror Law, which allows for the imprisonment and pre-trial detention of writers and journalists with no material links to terrorism or the plotting of violent acts.

3. Revise other articles of the Turkish Penal Code that have been used to stifle legitimate political comment or to suppress creative  works.

4. Improve on the positive reforms made as part of the Third Judicial Reform Package by going further to eliminate unnecessary pre-trial detention and onerously lengthy trial times, and introduce a stringent means of vetting cases before trial so that weak indictments can’t be used to imprison, harass or intimidate writers and journalists.

 

Free expression- and human rights-organizations commemorate killed journalists in Mexico on the Day of the Dead

PRESS RELEASE

Free expression- and human rights-organizations commemorate killed journalists in Mexico on the Day of the Dead

On Wednesday 2. November, PEN-centers all over the world will mark the Day of the Dead and commemorate our many killed or disappeared colleagues in Mexico, one of the world´ s most violent countries for writers and journalists.

Mexico is one of the most dangerous places in the world in which to practise journalism.  In the last five years, 35 journalists have been murdered and eight have gone missing. This year alone, nine journalists have been killed, four of whom were women.  Most of the dead, such as La Opinión reporter Eliseo Barrón Hernández,  murdered on 25 May 2009, were involved in investigating corruption or reporting on organised crime, and were likely targeted because of their work. The vast majority of these killings and disappearances have not been properly investigated or punished, creating a climate of impunity and fear.

In Norway, seven organizations are now writing a joint letter to Mexico´s president, Felipe Calderón, asking him to stand by the promises he gave when he took office in December 2006.  The seven organizations are:

Norwegian Union of Journalists
Norwegian Institute for Journalism
Amnesty Norway
Norwegian Authors´ Union
Norwegian Non-fiction Writers and Translators Association
The Norwegian National Commission for UNESCO
Norwegian PEN

Read the letter to Felipe Calderón here.
See list of killed and disappeared writers in Mexico here.

Ytringsfrihetsorganisasjoner minnes drepte kolleger i Mexico på De Dødes Dag 2. november

PRESSEMELDING

Ytringsfrihets- og menneskerettighetsorganisasjoner minnes drepte journalister på De Dødes Dag

Tirsdag 2. november markerer PEN-sentere over hele verden De Dødes Dag og fokuserer samtidig på våre mange drepte kolleger i Mexico, et av verdens mest voldelige land for skribenter og journalister.

35 journalister og forfattere er blitt drept og 8 er forsvunnet i Mexico siden desember 2006.  Dette er status etter at Mexicos president, Felipe Calderón, ble innsatt 1. desember 2006 og samtidig erklærte full krig mot narkokartellene.  Etter dette har volden i Mexico bare økt.  Fram til juni 2011 har over 41.000 mennesker mistet livet i narkorelaterte bandekriger som bare ser ut til å øke i omfang.  Mord og forsvinninger skaper frykt som fører til selvsensur og flukt, slik at informasjon om hvem som er ansvarlige ikke når offentligheten. Dette betyr en dramatisk innskrenkning av ytrings- og informasjonsfriheten.

I motsetning til det vi kan lese i offisielle, meksikanske kilder, er det ikke bare narkokartellene som begår overgrep.  Også hæren, marineinfanterister, politiet og politikere er blant de ansvarlige.  Dette har vært kjent i årevis.  Det nye nå er at konflikten med og mellom de ulike narkokartellene eskalerer, noe som fører til stadig grovere menneskerettighetsbrudd og et voksende antall overgrep mot medier, journalister og forfattere.  Felles for de fleste overgrepene er at de aldri blir etterforsket og at ingen blir dømt.

I Norge, som i Danmark, går flere organisasjoner nå sammen om en felles henvendelse til Mexicos president, der vi

• Protesterer mot de mange drap og forsvinninger som har skjedd etter at han overtok presidentvervet, og mot at samtlige saker tydeligvis forblir uløste

• Ber om en uavhengig etterforskning av samtlige forbrytelser, med særlig fokus på skribentvirksomhet som drapsmotiv

• Ber presidenten holde sitt løfte om å gjøre drap på journalister og skribenter til en føderal forbrytelse, ved å endre grunnloven slik at føderale myndigheter får muligheten til å etterforske, rettsforfølge og straffe slike forbrytelser.

Oslo, 31.oktober 2011

Amnesty International Norge, Norsk Journalistlag, Institutt for Journalistikk, Den norske UNESCO-kommisjonen, Norsk faglitterær forfatter- og oversetterforening,  Den norske Forfatterforening og  Norsk PEN

Ytterligere informasjon: Norsk PEN, 926 88 023.

Vedlegg:     Felles brev til Felipe Calderón
Presentasjon av 43 drepte journalister og forfattere

Lydia Cacho receives death threats

RAPID ACTION NETWORK

1 July 2011

Update #4 to RAN 54/05

MEXICO: Lydia Cacho threatened with death; fears for safety

The Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International (WiPC) is deeply alarmed by anonymous death threats received by author and journalist Lydia Cacho on 14 June 2011 and by the Mexican authorities’ apparent lack of response. Cacho believes that the threats, which made direct reference to her journalism, stem from her naming of alleged sex traffickers in her writings. The threats come in the same month as the murder of two Mexican columnists and the abduction of one other journalist. In all, a total of 40 of print journalists and writers have been killed in Mexico since 2004, while 10 more have gone missing. The WiPC calls on the federal and state authorities to investigate the threats against Cacho and to provide her with protection as a matter of the utmost urgency. It also calls on the authorities to implement the journalist protection mechanisms it promised in November 2010 immediately.

On 14 June 2011, the award-winning author, journalist and social activist Lydia Cacho Ribeiro reportedly received anonymous death threats by telephone and email, following her return from an event in Chihuahua state in northern Mexico. The threats made direct reference to her journalism and she believes that they were made in retaliation for her revelation of the names of alleged traffickers of women and girls. In 2010, she published a book entitled Esclavas del poder: un viaje al corazón de la trata de mujeres y niñas en el mundo (Servants of power: a journey into the heart of the trafficking of women and girls in the world). She has also written extensively on people trafficking, organized crime, drug trafficking, gender violence and official corruption in her columns and other articles.

Cacho reported the death threats to the authorities but no investigation or other action had been initiated as of 29 June, when she decided to make the threats public. She commented that Notiver columnist Miguel Ángel López Velasco Milo (pen name Milo Vela) received similar threats which the authorities also ignored; he was shot dead along with his wife and son in Veraruz state on 20 June 2011 (see RAN 33-11). However, Cacho said she had no intention of giving up her journalism or human rights work.

In 2009 the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights granted Cacho precautionary protective measures and asked the Mexican government to take action to protect her as a result of harassment and monitoring by armed men. However, to date only half of the measures have been implemented, according to Article 19, and she clearly remains at risk.

Background
Following the publication of her first book in 2005, on child pornography in Mexico (Los Demonios del Edén: el poder detrás de la pornografía – The Demons of Eden: the power behind pornography), Cacho was illegally arrested, detained and ill treated before being subjected to a year-long criminal defamation lawsuit. She was cleared of all charges in 2007, but her attempts to gain legal redress for her treatment have been thwarted and she continues to be the target of harassment and threats due to her investigative journalism. Cacho was awarded the 2009 One Humanity Award from Canadian PEN, the 2008 Tucholsky prize from Swedish PEN and the 2007 Oxfam/Novib PEN Award for Free Expression, among numerous others. She was one of the subjects of the WiPC’s International Women’s Day action in March 2009 and International PEN’s Day of the Imprisoned Writer action in November 2006. She is an Honorary Member of Scottish PEN. For more information on Cacho, click here.

Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to work as a journalist. Since January 2004, 38 print journalists and two writers have been murdered, while 10 print journalists have gone missing in the same period. Nine of the killings and three of the disappearances occurred in 2010 alone. Few if any of these crimes have been properly investigated or punished. PEN International believes that it is likely that many of these writers were targeted in retaliation for their critical reporting, particularly on drug trafficking. While organised crime groups are responsible for many attacks, state agents, especially government officials and the police, are reportedly the main perpetrators of violence against journalists, and complicit in its continuance.

On 3 June 2011, PEN Canada, in collaboration with the International Human Rights Program at the Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, published a timely and provocative report on the situation in Mexico: Corruption, Impunity, Silence: The War on Mexico’s Journalists (also available in Spanish). The same day Canada’s national newspaper The Globe and Mail published an op-ed by John Ralston Saul, President of PEN International, on the report (also available in Spanish and French).

Useful links

Reports on the latest death threats by:

·         Article 19 (30 June 2010):  Lydia Cacho: Threats Continue as Authorities Fail to Protect  (English only)

·         The Committee to Protect Journalists (29 June 2011): Death threats against Lydia Cacho (English only)

·         Vanguardia newspaper (29 June 2011) Lydia Cacho denuncia amenazas de muerte por investigar a mafias   (Spanish only):

Please send appeals:
Protesting the death threats received by author and journalist Lydia Cacho on 14 June 2011, the Mexican authorities’ lack of response to these threats, and its failure to fully implement precautionary protective measures granted to Cacho by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 2009;

Calling on the Mexican authorities to investigate these latest death threats against Cacho, focusing on her journalistic work as the likely motive, with the involvement of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Freedom of Expression, and to provide her with protection as a matter of the utmost urgency;

Calling on the government of President Felipe Calderón to implement the journalist protection mechanisms it promised in November 2010 immediately, and also to fulfil its promises to make crimes against journalists a federal offence, by amending the Constitution so that federal authorities have the power to investigate, prosecute and punish such crimes.

Appeals to:

President
Lic. Felipe De Jesús Calderón Hinojosa
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: felipe.calderon@presidencia.gob.mx

Salutation: Señor Presidente/ Dear Mr President

Attorney General
Lic. Arturo Chávez Chávez
Procurador General de la República
Av. Paseo de Reforma No. 211-213, Piso 16
Col. Cuauhtémoc, Defegacion 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

Salutation: Señor Procurador General/Dear Attorney General

Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Freedom of Expression
Dr Gustavo Salas Chávez
Fiscal Especial para la Atención de Delitos Cometidos contra Periodistas (FEADP)
Email: feadp@pgr.gob.mx

Please also send copies of your appeals to the Mexican Embassy in your country.

See
Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Dødstrusler mot Lydia Cacho

RAPID ACTION NETWORK

1 July 2011

Update #4 to RAN 54/05

MEXICO: Lydia Cacho threatened with death; fears for safety

The Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International (WiPC) is deeply alarmed by anonymous death threats received by author and journalist Lydia Cacho on 14 June 2011 and by the Mexican authorities’ apparent lack of response. Cacho believes that the threats, which made direct reference to her journalism, stem from her naming of alleged sex traffickers in her writings. The threats come in the same month as the murder of two Mexican columnists and the abduction of one other journalist. In all, a total of 40 of print journalists and writers have been killed in Mexico since 2004, while 10 more have gone missing. The WiPC calls on the federal and state authorities to investigate the threats against Cacho and to provide her with protection as a matter of the utmost urgency. It also calls on the authorities to implement the journalist protection mechanisms it promised in November 2010 immediately.

On 14 June 2011, the award-winning author, journalist and social activist Lydia Cacho Ribeiro reportedly received anonymous death threats by telephone and email, following her return from an event in Chihuahua state in northern Mexico. The threats made direct reference to her journalism and she believes that they were made in retaliation for her revelation of the names of alleged traffickers of women and girls. In 2010, she published a book entitled Esclavas del poder: un viaje al corazón de la trata de mujeres y niñas en el mundo (Servants of power: a journey into the heart of the trafficking of women and girls in the world). She has also written extensively on people trafficking, organized crime, drug trafficking, gender violence and official corruption in her columns and other articles.

Cacho reported the death threats to the authorities but no investigation or other action had been initiated as of 29 June, when she decided to make the threats public. She commented that Notiver columnist Miguel Ángel López Velasco Milo (pen name Milo Vela) received similar threats which the authorities also ignored; he was shot dead along with his wife and son in Veraruz state on 20 June 2011 (see RAN 33-11). However, Cacho said she had no intention of giving up her journalism or human rights work.

In 2009 the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights granted Cacho precautionary protective measures and asked the Mexican government to take action to protect her as a result of harassment and monitoring by armed men. However, to date only half of the measures have been implemented, according to Article 19, and she clearly remains at risk.

Background
Following the publication of her first book in 2005, on child pornography in Mexico (Los Demonios del Edén: el poder detrás de la pornografía – The Demons of Eden: the power behind pornography), Cacho was illegally arrested, detained and ill treated before being subjected to a year-long criminal defamation lawsuit. She was cleared of all charges in 2007, but her attempts to gain legal redress for her treatment have been thwarted and she continues to be the target of harassment and threats due to her investigative journalism. Cacho was awarded the 2009 One Humanity Award from Canadian PEN, the 2008 Tucholsky prize from Swedish PEN and the 2007 Oxfam/Novib PEN Award for Free Expression, among numerous others. She was one of the subjects of the WiPC’s International Women’s Day action in March 2009 and International PEN’s Day of the Imprisoned Writer action in November 2006. She is an Honorary Member of Scottish PEN. For more information on Cacho, click here.

Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to work as a journalist. Since January 2004, 38 print journalists and two writers have been murdered, while 10 print journalists have gone missing in the same period. Nine of the killings and three of the disappearances occurred in 2010 alone. Few if any of these crimes have been properly investigated or punished. PEN International believes that it is likely that many of these writers were targeted in retaliation for their critical reporting, particularly on drug trafficking. While organised crime groups are responsible for many attacks, state agents, especially government officials and the police, are reportedly the main perpetrators of violence against journalists, and complicit in its continuance.

On 3 June 2011, PEN Canada, in collaboration with the International Human Rights Program at the Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, published a timely and provocative report on the situation in Mexico: Corruption, Impunity, Silence: The War on Mexico’s Journalists (also available in Spanish). The same day Canada’s national newspaper The Globe and Mail published an op-ed by John Ralston Saul, President of PEN International, on the report (also available in Spanish and French).

Useful links

Reports on the latest death threats by:

·         Article 19 (30 June 2010): Lydia Cacho: Threats Continue as Authorities Fail to Protect (English only)

·         The Committee to Protect Journalists (29 June 2011): Death threats against Lydia Cacho (English only)

·         Vanguardia newspaper (29 June 2011): Lydia Cacho denuncia amenazas de muerte por investigar a mafias (Spanish only):

Please send appeals:
Protesting the death threats received by author and journalist Lydia Cacho on 14 June 2011, the Mexican authorities’ lack of response to these threats, and its failure to fully implement precautionary protective measures granted to Cacho by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 2009;

Calling on the Mexican authorities to investigate these latest death threats against Cacho, focusing on her journalistic work as the likely motive, with the involvement of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Freedom of Expression, and to provide her with protection as a matter of the utmost urgency;

Calling on the government of President Felipe Calderón to implement the journalist protection mechanisms it promised in November 2010 immediately, and also to fulfil its promises to make crimes against journalists a federal offence, by amending the Constitution so that federal authorities have the power to investigate, prosecute and punish such crimes.

Appeals to:

President
Lic. Felipe De Jesús Calderón Hinojosa
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: felipe.calderon@presidencia.gob.mx

Salutation: Señor Presidente/ Dear Mr President

Attorney General
Lic. Arturo Chávez Chávez
Procurador General de la República
Av. Paseo de Reforma No. 211-213, Piso 16
Col. Cuauhtémoc, Defegacion 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

Salutation: Señor Procurador General/Dear Attorney General

Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Freedom of Expression
Dr Gustavo Salas Chávez
Fiscal Especial para la Atención de Delitos Cometidos contra Periodistas (FEADP)
Email: feadp@pgr.gob.mx

Please also send copies of your appeals to the Mexican Embassy in your country.

See
Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

March 8. 2011: Focus on brave voices in Iran and Mexico

PEN Internationals’ Writers in Prison Committee
8 March 2011 International Womeen’s Day

Crackdown on Women’s Rights Activists in Iran and Mexico
On 8 March 2011, while the world celebrates International Women’s Day, human rights lawyer, journalist and activist Nasrin Soutadeh will have been in prison for six months, and faces another ten and a half years in jail. Her sentence is part of a systematic assault on human rights defenders and activists in Iran, many of whom are subject to arbitrary arrest, travel bans, closure of their organisations and harassment. PEN International is calling for Soutadeh’s release, and an end to arrests and persecution of all those who speak out on human rights abuses.

Nasrin Sotoudeh, aged 47 and a mother of two young children, was arrested on 4 September 2010 when she was summoned to the special court in Evin prison on charges of «propaganda against the state», “cooperating with the Association of Human Rights Defenders” and «conspiracy to disturb order». The arrest followed a raid on her home and office by security officers on 29 August 2010, who confiscated her files and documents. Her lawyer was not allowed to represent her in court or accompany her client during questioning. She was sentenced to eleven years in jail by Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court on 9 January 2010. The court also banned her from practicing law and from leaving the country for twenty years.

Soutadeh is believed to be charged for critical interviews she gave to overseas media following the disputed June 2009 presidential election, and for her membership of the Association of Human Rights Defenders (see below for more details). The sentence comprises one year’s imprisonment for «propaganda against the regime», and a total of ten years for the two charges of «acting against national security» and «violating the Islamic dress code (Hijab) in a filmed speech». She is appealing the sentence.

Soutadeh has spent much of her detention in solitary confinement at Tehran’s Evin Prison. She has staged three hunger strikes to protest her prison conditions and violations of due process, and her physical condition is said to have deteriorated alarmingly. Since her arrest Nasrin Soutadeh has been allowed very limited access to her family and lawyer, in violation of the Iranian Penal Code which guarantees the right to weekly visits and receive phone calls from relatives. Concerns for her welfare are acute.

Nasrin Sotoudeh is best known as a human rights lawyer and activist, but has also worked as a journalist for several reformist newspapers including Jame’e. Since qualifying as a lawyer in 2003, she has specialised in women’s and children’s rights, and has continued to write articles on these issues. Many of her articles have been rejected for publication, including a report written for a special issue of Daricheh on women’s rights for the occasion of 8 March (Women’s Day) last year. Following the launch of the One Million Signatures Campaign for the Repeal of Discriminatory Laws in August 2006 by several leading women’s rights activists (http://www.change4equality.co.uk/en/), and the widespread growth of the women’s rights movement in Iran, she has represented many women’s rights activists including Parvin Ardalan, a well-known PEN case (see previous alerts). She is a close associate of exiled lawyer and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, and has represented many imprisoned Iranian opposition activists arrested in the unprecedented crackdown on dissent following the disputed presidential elections of 12 June 2009. Arrests are continuing, and many have been handed down lengthy sentences.

Click here to read some of Nasrin’s articles in English translation:
Hanging of Juveniles Under the Age of 18 in Iran
Execution of Minors and soghra’s file
In honour of Nasrin Sotoudeh

TAKE ACTION!

MINIMUM ACTION
Send an appeal:

§         Condemning the harsh prison sentence handed down to writer, journalist and lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh solely for the peaceful exercise of her right to free expression;

§         Calling for her immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a signatory;

§         Ensuring that she has full access to family visits and any necessary medical care whilst detained;

§         Seeking assurances of her well-being in detention.

Appeals to:

Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic
His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Shoahada Street,
Qom,
Islamic Republic of Iran.

Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Sadeqh Larijani
Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh (Office of the Head of the Judiciary)
Pasteur St.,
Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhouri
Tehran 1316814737
Islamic Republic of Iran.

COPIES TO:
President
His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The Presidency,
Palestine Avenue,
Azerbaijan Intersection,
Tehran,
Islamic Republic of Iran.

If possible please send a copy of your appeal to the diplomatic representative for Iran in your country.

 

Justice for Mexican poet and activist Susana Chávez
On the occasion of Women’s Day 2011, the Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International (WiPC) commemorates the poet and women’s rights activist Susana Chávez Castillo, who was murdered in the border town of Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua state, on 6 January 2011. Chávez was active in protests and social groups calling for justice for the hundreds of women killed in the Juárez area since the early 1990s. The authorities have denied that her murder was related in any way to her activism and poetry or to organised crime, despite the recent murder and harassment of numerous other local rights defenders and the area’s long record of extreme violence against women. Two months on, Chávez’ murder remains unsolved. The WiPC calls on the Mexican authorities to conduct a full and impartial investigation into her death, including due consideration of any possible links to her activism and poetry.

Susana Chávez Castillo (born 5 November 1974) was a prominent poet who led protests against the unsolved killings of women raped and killed in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua state, on the border with the United States, since the 1990s. She was also active in organisations supporting the families and friends of the deceased women, including the group Return Our Daughters (Nuestras Hijas de Regreso a Casa). Chávez coined and popularised the slogan “Not one more death” (‘Ni una muerte más’) which was used at the protests, and took part in poetry readings that she dedicated to murdered women. Her poem Sangre Nuestra (Our Blood) (see below) is written from the perspective of a victim.

Chávez was herself murdered and mutilated in Ciudad Juárez in early January 2011. Her body was found strangled with a bag over her head and her left hand cut off in the city centre on 6 January but was only identified five days later.

The authorities were quick to deny that Chávez’ murder was related to her activism and poetry highlighting the ‘femicides’ or to organised crime. The Chihuahua state attorney general’s office said that Chávez was killed by three teenage boys she had met while out drinking. The teenagers allegedly invited her to a house belonging to one of them and murdered her while they were drunk and high on drugs, cutting off her hand to try to make the murder look as if it was connected to organised crime. All three suspects were arrested and have been charged with her murder. The Mexican National Commission of Human Right is following the case.

Chávez’ death took place three weeks after the murder of human rights defender Marisela Escobedo Ortiz, a mother who fought tirelessly for justice for her daughter, Rubí Marisol, who was killed in Ciudad Juárez in 2008. Escobedo was shot dead while picketing outside the governor’s palace in the state capital Chihuahua city on 16 December 2010. At least five other rights activists have reportedly been killed in Chihuahua in the last two years while others have been threatened and attacked.

Amnesty International stated that Chávez was apparently a victim of the violence against women she campaigned against, and that her murder is a further indication that such violence is again on the rise in Ciudad Juárez and Chihuahua.

Some 1,000 mainly poor women have been murdered in the Juárez area since 1993, 300 of them in 2010 alone. Most of the murders remain unsolved and have been variously attributed to serial killers, drug cartels, domestic or sexual violence. As drug cartels continue to fight each other and the military for access to the US market, Ciudad Juárez is now the most violent city in Mexico, with over 3,000 people murdered in 2010 out of a population of just over a million.

Mexico is also one of the most dangerous countries in the world to work as a journalist. Since January 2004, 36 writers – 35 print journalists and one author – have been murdered, while nine other print journalists have disappeared. Few if any of these crimes have been properly investigated or punished.

Useful links:
Reports on Chávez’ death by the BBC on 12 January 2011 (English) and 13 January (Spanish), and by the Los Angeles Times (14 January) (English only)
Report on recent attacks on human rights defenders in Chihuahua state by Human Rights Watch (23 February 2011): English and Spanish
Chávez’ poetry blog Primera Tormenta (First Storm) (Spanish only); the bio from her blog and her poem Sangre (Blood) are translated into English on this blog

RECOMMENDED ACTIONS:

Please send appeals:
Protesting the murder and mutilation of the poet and women’s right activist Susana Chávez Castillo on 6 January 2011;
Calling for a full and impartial investigation into her murder, including due consideration of any possible links with her activism and poetry, with the involvement of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Journalists and Freedom of Expression;
Calling too for effective investigations into all other unsolved killings and disappearances of writers, journalists and human rights activists in Mexico.

Send appeals to:

President
Lic. Felipe De Jesús Calderón Hinojosa
Presidente de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos
Residencia Oficial de los Pinos Casa Miguel Alemán
Col. San Miguel Chapultepec, C.P. 11850, DISTRITO FEDERAL, México
Email: felipe.calderon@presidencia.gob.mx

Salutation: Señor Presidente/ Dear Mr President

Attorney General
Lic. Arturo Chávez Chávez
Procurador General de la República
Av. Paseo de Reforma No. 211-213, Piso 16
Col. Cuauhtémoc, Defegacion Cuauhtémoc
México D.F. C.P. 06500
E-mail: ofproc@pgr.gob.mx

Salutation: Señor Procurador General/Dear Attorney General

 

Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Journalists and Freedom of Expression
Dr Gustavo Salas Chávez
Fiscal Especial para la Atención de Delitos Cometidos contra Periodistas (FEADP)
Email: feadp@pgr.gob.mx

Please also send copies of your appeals to the Mexican Embassy in your country.

See
Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

8. mars 2011:

Internasjonalt fokus på modige stemmer i Iran og Mexico

PEN Internationals´ Writers in Prison Committee
8 March 2011 International Womeen’s Day

Crackdown on Women’s Rights Activists in Iran and Mexico
On 8 March 2011, while the world celebrates International Women’s Day, human rights lawyer, journalist and activist Nasrin Soutadeh will have been in prison for six months, and faces another ten and a half years in jail. Her sentence is part of a systematic assault on human rights defenders and activists in Iran, many of whom are subject to arbitrary arrest, travel bans, closure of their organisations and harassment. PEN International is calling for Soutadeh’s release, and an end to arrests and persecution of all those who speak out on human rights abuses.

Nasrin Sotoudeh, aged 47 and a mother of two young children, was arrested on 4 September 2010 when she was summoned to the special court in Evin prison on charges of «propaganda against the state», “cooperating with the Association of Human Rights Defenders” and «conspiracy to disturb order». The arrest followed a raid on her home and office by security officers on 29 August 2010, who confiscated her files and documents. Her lawyer was not allowed to represent her in court or accompany her client during questioning. She was sentenced to eleven years in jail by Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court on 9 January 2010. The court also banned her from practicing law and from leaving the country for twenty years.

Soutadeh is believed to be charged for critical interviews she gave to overseas media following the disputed June 2009 presidential election, and for her membership of the Association of Human Rights Defenders (see below for more details). The sentence comprises one year’s imprisonment for «propaganda against the regime», and a total of ten years for the two charges of «acting against national security» and «violating the Islamic dress code (Hijab) in a filmed speech». She is appealing the sentence.

Soutadeh has spent much of her detention in solitary confinement at Tehran’s Evin Prison. She has staged three hunger strikes to protest her prison conditions and violations of due process, and her physical condition is said to have deteriorated alarmingly. Since her arrest Nasrin Soutadeh has been allowed very limited access to her family and lawyer, in violation of the Iranian Penal Code which guarantees the right to weekly visits and receive phone calls from relatives. Concerns for her welfare are acute.

Nasrin Sotoudeh is best known as a human rights lawyer and activist, but has also worked as a journalist for several reformist newspapers including Jame’e. Since qualifying as a lawyer in 2003, she has specialised in women’s and children’s rights, and has continued to write articles on these issues. Many of her articles have been rejected for publication, including a report written for a special issue of Daricheh on women’s rights for the occasion of 8 March (Women’s Day) last year. Following the launch of the One Million Signatures Campaign for the Repeal of Discriminatory Laws in August 2006 by several leading women’s rights activists (http://www.change4equality.co.uk/en/), and the widespread growth of the women’s rights movement in Iran, she has represented many women’s rights activists including Parvin Ardalan, a well-known PEN case (see previous alerts). She is a close associate of exiled lawyer and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, and has represented many imprisoned Iranian opposition activists arrested in the unprecedented crackdown on dissent following the disputed presidential elections of 12 June 2009. Arrests are continuing, and many have been handed down lengthy sentences.

Click here to read some of Nasrin’s articles in English translation:
Hanging of Juveniles Under the Age of 18 in Iran
Execution of Minors and soghra’s file
In honour of Nasrin Sotoudeh

TAKE ACTION!

MINIMUM ACTION
Send an appeal:

§         Condemning the harsh prison sentence handed down to writer, journalist and lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh solely for the peaceful exercise of her right to free expression;

§         Calling for her immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a signatory;

§         Ensuring that she has full access to family visits and any necessary medical care whilst detained;

§         Seeking assurances of her well-being in detention.

Appeals to:

Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic
His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Shoahada Street,
Qom,
Islamic Republic of Iran.

Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Sadeqh Larijani
Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh (Office of the Head of the Judiciary)
Pasteur St.,
Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhouri
Tehran 1316814737
Islamic Republic of Iran.

COPIES TO:
President
His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The Presidency,
Palestine Avenue,
Azerbaijan Intersection,
Tehran,
Islamic Republic of Iran.

If possible please send a copy of your appeal to the diplomatic representative for Iran in your country.

 

Justice for Mexican poet and activist Susana Chávez
On the occasion of Women’s Day 2011, the Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International (WiPC) commemorates the poet and women’s rights activist Susana Chávez Castillo, who was murdered in the border town of Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua state, on 6 January 2011. Chávez was active in protests and social groups calling for justice for the hundreds of women killed in the Juárez area since the early 1990s. The authorities have denied that her murder was related in any way to her activism and poetry or to organised crime, despite the recent murder and harassment of numerous other local rights defenders and the area’s long record of extreme violence against women. Two months on, Chávez’ murder remains unsolved. The WiPC calls on the Mexican authorities to conduct a full and impartial investigation into her death, including due consideration of any possible links to her activism and poetry.

Susana Chávez Castillo (born 5 November 1974) was a prominent poet who led protests against the unsolved killings of women raped and killed in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua state, on the border with the United States, since the 1990s. She was also active in organisations supporting the families and friends of the deceased women, including the group Return Our Daughters (Nuestras Hijas de Regreso a Casa). Chávez coined and popularised the slogan “Not one more death” (‘Ni una muerte más’) which was used at the protests, and took part in poetry readings that she dedicated to murdered women. Her poem Sangre Nuestra (Our Blood) (see below) is written from the perspective of a victim.

Chávez was herself murdered and mutilated in Ciudad Juárez in early January 2011. Her body was found strangled with a bag over her head and her left hand cut off in the city centre on 6 January but was only identified five days later.

The authorities were quick to deny that Chávez’ murder was related to her activism and poetry highlighting the ‘femicides’ or to organised crime. The Chihuahua state attorney general’s office said that Chávez was killed by three teenage boys she had met while out drinking. The teenagers allegedly invited her to a house belonging to one of them and murdered her while they were drunk and high on drugs, cutting off her hand to try to make the murder look as if it was connected to organised crime. All three suspects were arrested and have been charged with her murder. The Mexican National Commission of Human Right is following the case.

Chávez’ death took place three weeks after the murder of human rights defender Marisela Escobedo Ortiz, a mother who fought tirelessly for justice for her daughter, Rubí Marisol, who was killed in Ciudad Juárez in 2008. Escobedo was shot dead while picketing outside the governor’s palace in the state capital Chihuahua city on 16 December 2010. At least five other rights activists have reportedly been killed in Chihuahua in the last two years while others have been threatened and attacked.

Amnesty International stated that Chávez was apparently a victim of the violence against women she campaigned against, and that her murder is a further indication that such violence is again on the rise in Ciudad Juárez and Chihuahua.

Some 1,000 mainly poor women have been murdered in the Juárez area since 1993, 300 of them in 2010 alone. Most of the murders remain unsolved and have been variously attributed to serial killers, drug cartels, domestic or sexual violence. As drug cartels continue to fight each other and the military for access to the US market, Ciudad Juárez is now the most violent city in Mexico, with over 3,000 people murdered in 2010 out of a population of just over a million.

Mexico is also one of the most dangerous countries in the world to work as a journalist. Since January 2004, 36 writers – 35 print journalists and one author – have been murdered, while nine other print journalists have disappeared. Few if any of these crimes have been properly investigated or punished.

Useful links:
Reports on Chávez’ death by the BBC on 12 January 2011 (English) and 13 January (Spanish), and by the Los Angeles Times (14 January) (English only)
Report on recent attacks on human rights defenders in Chihuahua state by Human Rights Watch (23 February 2011): English and Spanish
Chávez’ poetry blog Primera Tormenta (First Storm) (Spanish only); the bio from her blog and her poem Sangre (Blood) are translated into English on this blog

RECOMMENDED ACTIONS:

Please send appeals:
Protesting the murder and mutilation of the poet and women’s right activist Susana Chávez Castillo on 6 January 2011;
Calling for a full and impartial investigation into her murder, including due consideration of any possible links with her activism and poetry, with the involvement of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Journalists and Freedom of Expression;
Calling too for effective investigations into all other unsolved killings and disappearances of writers, journalists and human rights activists in Mexico.

Send appeals to:

President
Lic. Felipe De Jesús Calderón Hinojosa
Presidente de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos
Residencia Oficial de los Pinos Casa Miguel Alemán
Col. San Miguel Chapultepec, C.P. 11850, DISTRITO FEDERAL, México
Email: felipe.calderon@presidencia.gob.mx

Salutation: Señor Presidente/ Dear Mr President

Attorney General
Lic. Arturo Chávez Chávez
Procurador General de la República
Av. Paseo de Reforma No. 211-213, Piso 16
Col. Cuauhtémoc, Defegacion Cuauhtémoc
México D.F. C.P. 06500
E-mail: ofproc@pgr.gob.mx

Salutation: Señor Procurador General/Dear Attorney General

 

Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Journalists and Freedom of Expression
Dr Gustavo Salas Chávez
Fiscal Especial para la Atención de Delitos Cometidos contra Periodistas (FEADP)
Email: feadp@pgr.gob.mx

Please also send copies of your appeals to the Mexican Embassy in your country.

See
Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)