Office of the Special Rapporteur Condemns Murder of Journalist Maximino Rodríguez Palacios in Mexico
April 18, 2017
Washington, D.C. – The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the murder of journalist Maximino Rodríguez Palacios, who was shot to death on April 14 in La Paz, State of Baja California Sur, and urges Mexican authorities to act promptly and appropriately to investigate, identify, and punish both the direct perpetrators and masterminds of this crime.
Rodríguez Palacios was hit by a burst of gunfire as he was parking his car. He was with his wife, who escaped the attack uninjured. According to the information available, the journalist had worked for nearly two years for Colectivo Pericú, a blog that reported on and exposed corruption, abuses, and cases of discrimination in the State of Baja California Sur, and had received threats after publishing information on April 11 about an alleged crime cell called "Los Colores."
According to a statement issued by the Office of the Attorney General of the Republic, the Baja California Sur State Office of the Deputy Attorney General for Regional Control, Criminal Proceedings, and Amparo (SCRPPA) and the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Freedom of Expression (FEADLE), opened the investigation into the journalist’s murder.
The State informed that Rodriguez was not a beneficiary of the Mechanism to Protect Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, however the press release issued by the of the governing board of the Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, condemned the killing of the journalist and urged authorities to investigate the crime and punish those responsible. It also informed that the mechanism is evaluating the risk in which other communicators that publish in the same blog could be found.
This is the fourth murder of a journalist in Mexico this year of which the Office of the Special Rapporteur has knowledge. On March 2, journalist Cecilio Pineda was killed in the State of Guerrero; on March 23, Miroslava Breach was murdered in the State of Chihuahua, and on March 19, journalist Ricardo Monlui Cabrera, editor of the bulletin El Político and columnist for the newspapers El Sol de Córdoba and Diario de Xapala, was killed in the State of Veracruz.
The Office of the Special Rapporteur urges the authorities to thoroughly investigate the hypothesis that these crimes were linked to the exercise of freedom of expression and the defense of human rights, and to put in practice all the legal instruments available to identify, prosecute and punish the perpetrators and masterminds responsible for these murders. The Office also considers it fundamental to adopt fair measures of reparation for the families of the journalists killed.
The Office of the Special Rapporteur considers it essential to urgently assess whether the mechanisms of change in jurisdiction should be activated so that these cases could be investigated and prosecuted immediately by federal authorities. This Office also considers it fundamental to consolidate the Mechanism to Protect Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, and to strengthen the interagency coordination mechanisms between federal authorities and the various levels of government to ensure the proper adoption and implementation of protection measures.
According with the standards developed by the Inter-American System, States have an obligation to protect those who face special risk to their fundamental rights. As will be developed in greater detail subsequently, the obligation to adopt specific measures of protection is dependent on the knowledge that there is a situation of real or imminent risk to a particular individual or group of individuals and reasonable possibility of preventing or avoiding harm.
Principle 9 of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression of the IACHR states that "[t]he murder, kidnapping, intimidation of and/or threats to social communicators, as well as the material destruction of communications media violate the fundamental rights of individuals and strongly restrict freedom of expression. It is the duty of the state to prevent and investigate such occurrences, to punish their perpetrators and to ensure that victims receive due compensation."
When such crimes remain unpunished, it encourages the repetition of similar violent acts and could result in the silencing and self-censorship of media workers.
The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression was created by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to encourage the defense of the right to freedom of thought and expression in the hemisphere, given the fundamental role this right plays in consolidating and developing the democratic system.