New York - The Committee to Protect Journalists hails the Mexican Senate's landmark approval on March 13 of a constitutional amendment that, if passed by a majority of states, would federalize anti-press crimes and transfer investigative powers to national authorities.
The broadly worded amendment, approved unanimously in the Senate, would modify Article 73 of the Mexican Constitution to say that federal authorities would have jurisdiction over any crime against "journalists, people, or outlets that affects, limits, or impinges upon the right to information and freedom of expression and the press." In effect, the legislation makes federal authorities responsible for investigating and prosecuting attacks on the press, instead of state and local authorities who have been prone to corruption and inefficacy. Versions of the legislation have been debated since 2008 before finally passing the Chamber of Deputies in November.
The measure now goes for ratification to the states, where passage by half plus one is needed for the change to go into effect. Senators told a CPJ delegation this month that despite some resistance, they expect the bill to be passed by the states within the next two months. The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which holds a majority in the Senate and controls the governorships in most of Mexico's states, is expected to urge state legislatures to pass the amendment.
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