The Mexican Senate unanimously passed legislation [text, in Spanish] Tuesday that would amend Article 73 of the Constitution [text] to make attacks against journalists a federal crime. The action comes following the deaths or disappearances of almost 50 journalists [Miami Herald report] over the last five years. Most threats against journalists purportedly come from local and federal officers and law enforcement authorities. The Mexican government has taken heat in recent years from organizations such as the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) [advocacy website] for not protecting journalists. The organization released a report [PDF] in September 2010, which detailed the crimes against journalists and recommended ways to prevent future incidents, including the federalization of such crimes. In September 2011, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) [advocacy website] released a statement condemning attacks on journalists in the country. They cite that almost 80 journalists were targeted in the last decade [press release]. With the unanimous approval of the Senate the legislation now must pass 17 of 31 state legislatures for it to become law.
The passage of the law comes only days after the United Nations Special Rapporteur Margaret Sekaggya [official website] outlined the risks and challenges faced by human rights journalists and media workers [press release], and called for additional protection [JURIST report] of those workers. The UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] voiced concerns in October regarding the growing number of journalists killed in Mexico [JURIST report] and called for Mexican authorities to investigate these crimes and bring those responsible to justice. In May, RSF released its annual list of predators of press freedom [JURIST report], which included the heads of state of several countries in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as Mexican drug cartels.