OFFICE OF THE SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR FOR FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION DEPLORES MURDER OF JOURNALIST AND THREATS AGAINST REPORTER IN
AND EFFICIENT MEASURES TO PROTECT JOURNALISTS AT RISK
Washington, D.C, May 29, 2009 - The Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States, Catalina Botero deplores the murder of Eliseo Barrón, reporter for La Opinión de Torreón, which occurred in Durango, Mexico, on May 26, 2009. Likewise, the Special Rapporteur calls the State attention to the serious threats received by reporter Lydia Cacho. The Special Rapporteur urges Mexican authorities to adopt all the necessary measures against impunity of crimes suffer by reporters, and to put into effect suitable mechanisms to protect journalists at risk.
According to the information received, on May 25, 2009, Eliseo Barrón was abducted from his home by a group of unidentified and armed persons, in front of his wife and daughters. He was killed that night. On May 26, his body was found. Barrón had been covering police information for La Opinión de Torreón for 11 years. According to the newspaper, before his death, the reporter was writing about corruption in Torreón.
In addition, the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression received information that reporter Lydia Cacho has received serious dead threats and that she is in extraordinary risk for reasons directly related to her work as a journalist. As the National Commission on Human Rights of Mexico said, the reporter was a victim of "acts of torture" and other violations of her human rights. According to the information received, those facts may have happened as retaliation because Cacho published a book in which she denounced the existence of a pederast net.
During this year, at least 6 reporters have been killed in the region during 2009, to prevent them from publishing information on corruption or on organized crime. Two of these reporters were killed in México. During 2006, 9 murders and one disappearance were reported. The following year, 3 homicides, and 3 disappearances were reported, and in 2008, 5 murders, and one disappearance. The Office of the Special Rapporteur has also received information about the extraordinary risk that some journalists face because of their reporting, and whose cases were already denounced to the authorities.
The Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression urges Mexican authorities to fully investigate the facts so that the authors of Barron’s murder and of Cacho’s human rights’ violations can be duly prosecuted and punished. She also calls the State to work on the investigations on crimes and threats against journalists, and to adopt, as soon as possible, all urgent measures needed to protect journalists, such as the strengthening of the Special Attorney Office for the Attention of Crimes Against Journalists, the federalization of the crimes against reporters, and the implementation of permanent and specialized mechanisms to guaranty the life and the integrity of those journalists who are at risk. The Special Rapporteur underlines that Principle 9 of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression of the IACHR states that the 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.
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