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Reporters Without Borders appeals for asylum for Mexican journalists

November 20, 2008 | 11:49 am

Reporters Without Borders issued an appeal to the international community today to provide asylum for journalists fleeing violence-plagued Mexican cities such as Ciudad Juarez. The nonprofit group appealed especially to the United States and Canada to provide humanitarian assistance.

Journalists in Mexico who cover organized crime are often risking their lives. The move by the global press-protection network comes in the wake of the murder of Armando Rodriguez, a crime reporter for the El Diario newspaper, who was shot dead in Ciudad Juarez last week, and the problems some journalists are experiencing in trying to leave Mexico.

Emilio Gutiérrez Soto, a fellow reporter of Rodriguez's at El Diario, fled to the United States in June because he was getting death threats, Reporters Without Borders says. But the nonprofit says Gutiérrez Soto has been detained in the Texan border town of El Paso since June after entering the United States "in an unauthorized manner -- while his asylum request is considered":

Gutiérrez has remained in detention despite a recent reminder by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees about the obligation to provide asylum. He could remain there for several more months as a hearing scheduled for today has been postponed until March.

Gutiérrez Soto is not the only journalist to have fled Mexico. As we reported Wednesday, Jorge Luis Aguirre, director of news website La Polaka, left Mexico with his family to the United States after receiving death threats in his home city of Ciudad Juárez.

Luís Horacio Najera, a correspondent for the national daily Reforma, is currently in Canada, and the managing editor of Reforma, Alejandro Junco de la Vega, went to the United States several months ago for what he said were safety reasons.

Reporters Without Borders said:

Claudio Tiznado, a reporter with Géneros, a newspaper based in Hermosillo, in the northwestern state of Sonora, requested asylum in Tucson, Arizona, in May 2007 but was unsuccessful and returned to Mexico a few months later.

Misael Habana had a similar experience. Habana used to co-produce a news program on the privately-owned national TV station Televisa with Amado Ramírez, who was murdered in Acapulco, in the southwestern state of Guerrero, on 6 April 2007. He requested asylum in Canada but gave up after seeing it was going to take a very long time."

-- Deborah Bonello in Mexico City

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