The Mexican government handed down two decrees Friday to draw "immediate attention" to the issue of protecting journalists and defenders of human rights amid the increasing violence against them.

"We cannot allow the people dedicated to these activities so indispensable to society to be the victims of fear and violence," President Felipe Calderon said during a ceremony at his official residence, Los Pinos.

Attending the event were representatives of NGOs and of journalists together with officials from the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and of various institutions in Mexico related to public safety and the administration of justice.

One of the decrees establishes the Law for the Protection of Journalists and Defenders of Human Rights, by which the federal and state governments eliminate jurisdictional divisions in cases of people who are "victims of threats and persecution," Calderon said.

A fund is also being set up to aid those who need protection.

The second decree ratifies the reform to Article 73 of the Mexican Constitution that makes protecting journalists the exclusive responsibility of the federal government.

Since the year 2000 at least 82 journalists and media workers have been murdered, according to figures of the independent National Human Rights Commission.

What makes this situation even worse is that the immense majority of these crimes go unpunished. EFE