December 2, 2011
PEN International

The Mexican Chamber of Deputies recently passed a constitutional amendment which, if made law, would empower Mexican federal authorities to prosecute crimes against journalists and freedom of expression.

That would mean that Mexican writers and print journalists would potentially be provided with greater protection from those who wish to silence them through the use of threats and violence.

John Ralston Saul, International President of PEN International has sent a letter to the Mexican Senate urging it to speedily ratify the amendment. All PEN members are encouraged to send letters to the President of the Senate, adapted from John Ralston Saul's letter. Please find example text below.

Dear Senators,

I am writing to you to urge you to speedily ratify the constitutional amendment contained in the addition to Article 73, Clause 21 of the Federal Constitution of Mexico. If ratified, this change in law would empower federal authorities to prosecute crimes against journalists and freedom of expression.

Since 2006, 36 print journalists, writers and bloggers have been murdered in Mexico because of their work, and eight have gone missing. PEN International recently launched a successful global campaign which highlighted the dangers that Mexican journalists and writers face in exercising their right to free expression, and which called for an end to the climate of impunity that exists for those who murder and attack writers in Mexico.

The proposed change in law bears comparison to laws already enacted in some Latin American countries and in the United States of America. These countries authorize the federal civil prosecution of actions that are considered a violation of federal civil rights, even where state courts and juries have judged them not guilty of violating state criminal statutes.

While we welcome the recent passage of the above-mentioned amendment through Mexico's Chamber of Deputies on 8 November 2011, we call on the Senate to demonstrate its commitment to the protection of freedom of expression by ratifying the amendment before the current legislative session ends in December 2011.

I thank you in advance for your attention.

Download John Ralston Saul's letter