Mexico City, March 14, 2012—PEN International warmly welcomes the Mexican Senate’s approval, on March 13, 2012, of a constitutional amendment, which, if passed by Mexico’s states, will federalize crimes against journalists.

John Ralston Saul, International President of PEN International said:

“This amendment was the focus of our recent delegation to Mexico City, and in particular of our conversation with the President of the Senate and other Senators.  Its passage is a very important step in the reforming of Mexican law to make it serve the freedom of expression of Mexican writers and Mexican citizens as a whole.”

PEN International has long campaigned for an end to impunity in Mexico. In January 2012 we sent an international delegation to Mexico City which met with, among others, the President of the Senate, José González Morfín, the then Special Prosecutor for Crimes Against Freedom of Expression, Gustavo Salas, and the Mayor of Mexico City, Marcelo Ebrard.

Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world in which to practice journalism. Since 2000 at least 67 journalists, writers, and bloggers have been murdered in connection to their work; at least 12 have disappeared.

One of the key demands made by PEN International during the delegation’s visit was that crimes against journalists and freedom of expression be federalized.

The amendment, if ratified, will modify Article 73 of the Mexican Constitution, giving federal authorities jurisdiction over any crime committed against journalists, persons, and organizations that impinges on their right to free expression. In practice, the vast majority of attacks on journalists in Mexico have been dealt with at state level, where corruption and inefficiency is endemic. Handing responsibility to federal authorities will bring greater resources to any investigation; the federal authorities are also considered to be less susceptible to corruption.

Versions of the legislation have been debated since 2008. The amendment now needs to be passed by a majority of the states for it to become law.

Note to Editors:
PEN International celebrates literature and promotes freedom of expression. Founded in 1921, our global community of writers now comprises 144 Centers spanning more than 100 countries. Our programs, campaigns, events and publications connect writers and readers for global solidarity and cooperation. PEN International is a non-political organization and holds consultative status at the United Nations and UNESCO. 

Cathal Sheerin, PEN International, +44 (0) 78 246 0338