Freedom of Expression

Press Release R07-10






Washington D.C., January 23, 2010 – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights’ (IACHR) Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression emphatically condemns the murder of José Luis Romero, a journalist with radio news show "Línea Directa," which is broadcast by Radio Sistema del Noroeste in the state of Sinaloa, Mexico. This is the second journalist murdered in Mexico so far this year. The Office of the Special Rapporteur once again exhorts the Mexican authorities to expedite the strengthening of the investigative agencies charged with solving these kinds of crimes and urges the Mexican State to create, without delay, special protective mechanisms to adequately, effectively, and in a timely fashion address the extremely serious risks faced by journalists in Mexico, particularly near the northern border.


According to the information received by the Office of the Special Rapporteur, José Luis Romero, a journalist covering the police beat, was kidnapped on December 30, 2009. On Saturday, January 16, 2010, his lifeless body was found by the side of a highway on the way to the city of Los Mochis, in Sinaloa state. According to the information, the autopsy indicated that Romero had been dead for more than 15 days by the time his remains were found. Once again, suspicion falls on the criminal organizations that control narcotics trafficking along Mexico’s northern border with the United States.


In 2009, at least 10 journalists were murdered in Mexico for reasons related to the practice of their profession. These incidents were condemned time and again by the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, and each time it reiterated its urgent call for the Mexican authorities to investigate the crimes and punish those responsible. Likewise, the Office of the Special Rapporteur requested that the State take urgent measures to provide protection to social communicators due to the undeniable risks that they live with every day.


In this sense, the Office of the Special Rapporteur repeats its call for the Mexican State to move decisively forward with existing investigations into crimes against journalists and to adopt, as soon as possible, measures that are indispensable for protecting the press. Such measures include the strengthening of the Special Prosecutor, the classification of crimes against journalists as federal crimes, and the implementation of permanent and specialized measures of protection to guarantee the life and physical integrity of at-risk communicators.


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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