CPJ calls for investigation into Bradley Will murder

The Committee to Protect Journalists sent a letter to President Felipe Calderón urging him to set up a rigorous investigation into the murder of Brad Will.

October 26, 2007

Felipe Calderón Hinojosa
President of Mexico
Los Pinos
Mexico City, Mexico

Via facsimile: 52-55-52772376

Your Excellency:

The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned that one year after the death of journalist Bradley Roland Will nobody has been brought to justice. Further, we are troubled by the absence of a serious murder investigation and the lack of official response to witness reports and photographs from the murder scene that identify several armed men shooting into the crowd where Will was present.

On October 27, 2006, in the capital city of Oaxaca state, Will was shot twice while covering a clash between antigovernment protesters and heavily armed plainclothes men working for the embattled state governor, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz. At the time of the shooting, Will, a 36-year-old independent journalist reporting for New York’s Indymedia, was standing alongside protesters. He was accompanied by at least eight other journalists. Ballistics reports show that the two bullets that hit Will came from the same weapon, from a distance of no more than 16 feet, which corresponds to the distance cited in witness accounts of men shooting as they charged the protesters.

Days after the shooting, authorities detained two men who worked for the state government, CPJ revealed in its April report, “A Killing in Mexico.” However, they were released after a state judge concluded they were not close enough to Will to have shot him. Nobody has been arrested since and none of the other armed men photographed during the shooting have been interrogated.

The lack of progress in the Will case exemplifies the impunity surrounding attacks against the press in Mexico, which has become one of the most dangerous places for journalists in the Americas, CPJ research shows. The Mexican criminal judicial system has proved to be overburdened and dysfunctional. We believe this is a national problem whose resolution requires the engagement of the federal government. If the Mexican government is indeed committed to protecting press freedom, stronger judicial proceedings must be put into place.

The Attorney General’s Office has recently announced a bill that would federalize crimes against the press. This legislation will criminalize any attempt to harm, through violence or other means, the right of Mexicans to free expression, a fundamental right enshrined in your nation’s constitution. We urge you to make the protection of free expression a priority of your administration.

In late March, when Will’s relatives met with then-State Attorney General Lizbeth Caña in Oaxaca, she told them she had requested that federal authorities also investigate the case. She argued that the apparent use of army-issued weapons during the killing, weapons that appear in several photographs taken during the incident, was a federal crime. Yet a parallel investigation eventually begun by federal officials in Oaxaca into the Will case has since been dropped. The special prosecutor for crimes against the press, Octavio Orellana, told CPJ he continues to oversee the state’s investigation, despite the fact that no results have yet come of it so far.

It is disturbing that officials working for the State Attorney General’s Office, including Caña, have suggested that a protester fired the fatal gunshots point-blank without presenting any evidence to back these claims. The unwillingness of state authorities to push for a serious investigation combined with the limited powers of the special federal prosecutor’s office to pursue crimes against the press, have resulted in a slipshod investigation.

We respectfully request that you use the power of your office to set up a rigorous investigation that seriously examines witness accounts, forensic evidence, as well as photographs from the day of the shooting. The failure of the Mexican government to achieve justice in this case sends a disquieting message to journalists throughout Mexico who feel vulnerable and at times helpless in the face of the unrelenting record of impunity.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter. We await your response.

Sincerely,

Joel Simon
Executive Director

Committee to Protect Journalists
330 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001 USA
Phone: (212) 465‑1004
Fax: (212) 465‑9568
Web: www.cpj.org
E-Mail: media@cpj.org

CC:

Eduardo Medina-Mora Icaza, Mexico’s Attorney General
Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, Governor of the State of Oaxaca
Evencio Nicolás Martínez Ramírez, Oaxaca State Attorney General
Octavio Orellana, Special Prosecutor for Crimes against the Press
Arturo Sarukhan, Mexican Ambassador to the United States
Ignacio Alvarez, OAS Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression
American Society of Newspaper Editors
Amnesty International
Article 19 (United Kingdom)
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
Freedom Forum
Freedom House
Human Rights Watch
Index on Censorship
International Center for Journalists
International Federation of Journalists
International PEN
International Press Institute
Louise Arbour, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights
The Newspaper Guild
The North American Broadcasters Association
Overseas Press Club
Reporters Sans Frontières
The Society of Professional Journalists
World Association of Newspapers
World Press Freedom Committee

CPJ is a New York-based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom around the world.

————–

El CPJ insta a investigar con rigor el asesinato de Bradley Will

[El CPJ envió hoy una carta al Presidente Felipe Calderón instando al gobierno a investigar con rigor el asesinato de Bradley Will]

26 de octubre del 2007

Felipe Calderón Hinojosa
Presidente de la República de México
Los Pinos
México, D.F., México

Por fax: 52- 55 – 52772376

Su Excelencia:

Al Comit para la Proteccin de los Periodistas (CPJ, por sus siglas en ingls) le preocupa mucho que un ao despus de la muerte del periodista Bradley Roland Will nadie haya sido llevado ante la justicia. Tambin nos preocupa la ausencia de una investigacin seria sobre el asesinato sumado a la falta de una respuesta oficial ante informes de testigos y fotografas tomadas en el momento del asesinato en las que aparecen varios hombres armados disparndole al grupo donde se encontraba Will.

El 27 de octubre del 2006, en la capital del estado de Oaxaca, Will recibi dos disparos mortales mientras cubra un enfrentamiento entre manifestantes antigubernamentales y hombres de civil armados que trabajaban para el controvertido gobernador del estado, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz. En el momento del tiroteo, Will, periodista independiente de 26 aos que trabajaba para Indymedia, se encontraba entre los manifestantes. Tambin estaban presentes por lo menos ocho periodistas ms. Informes de balstica indican que las dos balas que penetraron a Will proceden de la misma arma y fueron disparadas de una distancia de menos de 5 metros, lo cual corresponde a lo relatado por testigos que vieron a hombres disparando contra los manifestantes.

Das despus del incidente, las autoridades detuvieron a dos hombres que trabajaban para el gobierno estatal, el CPJ inform en su informe A Killing in Mexico, publicado en abril. Sin embargo, los dos hombres fueron liberados despus que un juez local concluyera que no estaban lo suficiente cerca de Will para haberle disparado. Ninguna otra persona ha sido arrestada desde entonces y ninguno de los individuos armados que aparecen en las fotografas ha sido interrogado.

La falta de progreso en la investigacin del caso de Will ejemplifica la impunidad que rodea a los ataques contra la prensa en Mxico, un pas que se ha convertido en uno de los lugares ms peligrosos para periodistas en las Amricas, segn informacin del CPJ. El sistema judicial mexicano se ha mostrado sobrecargado y disfuncional. Consideramos que se trata de un problema nacional que necesita el compromiso del gobierno federal para solucionarlo. Si el gobierno mexicano est en verdad comprometido con la proteccin de la libertad de prensa, medidas judiciales ms enrgicas deben entrar en efecto.

La Procuradura General de la Repblica anunci recientemente un proyecto para federalizar los delitos contra la prensa. La iniciativa contempla la criminalizacin de cualquier intento de agresin contra los comunicadores, a travs de violencia u otros medios, que tienda a garantizar el derecho los ciudadanos a ser informados como lo establece la constitucin. Lo instamos a incluir la proteccin de la libertad de expresin entre las prioridades de su administracin.

A fines de marzo, familiares de Will se reunieron con la entonces Procuradora General del Estado de Oaxaca, Lizbeth Caa, quien les indic que haba solicitado a las autoridades federales que atrajeran el caso. La procuradora sostuvo que el supuesto uso de armas del ejrcito en el asesinato, que aparecen en varias fotografas tomadas durante el incidente, poda constituir un crimen federal. Si bien la investigacin federal se puso en marcha inicialmente, ha sido abandonada desde entonces. El procurador especial para crmenes contra periodistas, Octavio Orellana, seal al CPJ que contina supervisando la investigacin estatal, a pesar que no se han registrado resultados concretos hasta el momento.

Es alarmante que funcionarios que trabajan para la procuradura del Estado, incluyendo Caa, hayan sugerido que uno de los manifestantes haya sido quien efectu los disparos fatales sin presentar evidencia alguna para sustentar la afirmacin. La falta de voluntad de las autoridades estatales para impulsar una investigacin seria combinada con las limitaciones evidentes del fiscal especial de delitos contra la prensa, han resultado en una investigacin postergada.

Solicitamos con respeto que utilice el poder de su autoridad para promover una investigacin rigurosa que examine lo que dicen los testigos, la evidencia forense y que tambin tome en cuenta las fotografas del da del incidente. El fracaso del gobierno mexicano en alcanzar justicia enva un mensaje inquietante a los periodistas mexicanos que se sienten vulnerables y en ocasiones indefensos en un clima donde reina la impunidad.

Muchas gracias por su atencin sobre este asunto urgente. Esperamos su respuesta.

Atentamente,

Joel Simon
Director Ejecutivo

Con copia para:

Eduardo Medina-Mora Icaza, Procurador General de la República
Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, Gobernador del Estado de Oaxaca
Evencio Nicolás Martínez Ramírez, Procurador General del Estado de Oaxaca
Octavio Orellana, Fiscal Especial para Delitos contra la Prensa
Arturo Sarukhan, Embajador de México ante Estados Unidos
Ignacio Alvarez, Relator Especial para la Libertad de Expresión de la OEA
American Society of Newspaper Editors
Amnesty International
Article 19 (United Kingdom)
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
Freedom Forum
Freedom House
Human Rights Watch
Index on Censorship
International Center for Journalists
International Federation of Journalists
International PEN
International Press Institute
Louise Arbour, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights
The Newspaper Guild
The North American Broadcasters Association
Overseas Press Club
Reporters Sans Frontières
The Society of Professional Journalists
World Association of Newspapers
World Press Freedom Committee

El CPJ es una organización independiente sin ánimo de lucro radicada en Nueva York, y se dedica a defender la libertad de prensa en todo el mundo.

source: http://www.cpj.org/protests/07ltrs/americas/mexico26oct07pl.html

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