Latin America & Caribbean

Mexican journalists denounce Sinaloa state 'gag law'

View of the covers of Mexican newspapers in Mexico City on 23 February, 2014 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Guzman was arrested in Sinaloa's beach resort of Mazatlan, after 13 years on the run

Journalists in Mexico have criticised a new law that restricts crime reporting in north-western Sinaloa state.

The legislation bans journalists from taking pictures and recording video or audio at a crime scene.

Journalists will have to rely on official information approved by the Prosecutor's Office to report on crime.

Media organisations, journalist unions and campaign groups have denounced the law as a serious threat to press freedom in Mexico.

Sinaloa state authorities say it is aimed at preserving crime scenes for police investigation.

"There will be many changes in the roles of each one of us," said Sinaloa state Prosecutor Marco Antonio Higuera Gomez.

"But there will be no restriction to the work of the media."

'Shorty Guzman'

The bill was proposed by Governor Mario Lopez Valdez and unanimously approved by state legislators on Wednesday night.

"The media will have access to information on the crime investigations through the press releases prepared by the official public information department," establishes the law.

The legislation is due to come into effect on 15 October, but journalists - who refer to it as a "gag law" - say they will try to stop it being enforced.

"What's going to happen to media and journalists who get information and publish it?" questioned Gabriel Mercado, head of the June 7 Journalists and Communicators Association, speaking to the Agence France-Presse news agency.

"Will they be detained?" he asked.

In February Mexico's most wanted man, Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, was arrested in Sinaloa.

He was the leader of the powerful Sinaloa drug cartel, which controls much of the drug traffic to the United States via Mexico's Pacific coast.

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