Freedom of Expression

Press Release R03/10







Washington D.C., January 11, 2010 The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights’ (IACHR) Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression emphatically condemns the murder of Valentín Valdés Espinosa, a journalist with daily newspaper Zócalo Saltillo in the city of Saltillo, Coahuila state, Mexico. This is the second incident of its kind that has taken place in Mexico in three weeks. The Office of the Special Rapporteur exhorts the Mexican authorities to expedite the strengthening of the investigative bodies dealing with solving these kinds of crimes and urges the Mexican state to create special protective mechanisms that adequately and effectively address the serious risks faced by Mexico’s journalists, particularly near the northern border.


According to the information received by the Office of the Special Rapporteur, at around 11 PM on the night of Thursday, January 7, 2010, Valentín Valdés Espinosa, a journalist with daily newspaper Zócalo Saltillo’s local section, was traveling with two fellow reporters on the Venustiano Carranza Boulevard in the city of Saltillo. Unknown individuals riding in two sport utility vehicles intercepted them and forced them out of their car. Valdés Espinosa was kidnapped, along with another reporter who was freed several hours later after being beaten. Early Friday morning, Valdés Espinosa’s lifeless body was found on Fundadores Boulevard, in front of the Marbella Motel, along with a message that has not yet been released by the authorities in charge of the investigation.


During 2009, at least 10 journalists were murdered in Mexico for reasons related to their work as journalists. The Office of the Special Rapporteur calls urgently on the Mexican authorities to investigate Valdés Espinosa murder and to capture and adequately punish those responsible.


The Office of the Special Rapporteur energically repeats its call for the Mexican State to expedite existing investigations on crimes against media workers and to take any necessary measures to protect the press as soon as possible. Such measures might include the strengthening of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Journalists (Fiscala Especial Para la Atención de Delitos Cometidos Contra Periodistas), the classifying of crimes against journalists as federal crimes, and the implementation of permanent mechanisms of special protection to guarantee the life and physical integrity of at-risk media workers.


The Office of the Special Rapporteur reminds 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 against social communicators, as well as the material destruction of communications media, violates the fundamental rights of individuals and strongly restricts 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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