Freedom of Expression

Press Release R66/10


Nº R66/10


 Washington D.C., July 2, 2010 - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights' (IACHR) Office of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression wishes to express its deep concern at the murder of journalists Juan Francisco Rodríguez Ríos and María Elvira Hernández Galeana in Coyuca de Benítez, in the state of Guerrero, Mexico. The Office of the Special Rapporteur calls on the Mexican state to make all efforts necessary to quickly and effectively solve these crimes, in such a way as to bring those responsible to trial and duly punish them. Likewise, the Office of the Special Rapporteur once more urges the State to adopt mechanisms for the protection of at-risk journalists and to implement effective measures to combat impunity in crimes committed against media workers.

According to the information received by the Office of the Special Rapporteur, Rodríguez Ríos, who was a correspondent with the newspaper El Sol de Acapulco in Coyuca de Benítez, and Elvira Hernández Galeana, the editor of the weekly newspaper Nueva Línea, were shot to death on the evening of Monday, June 28. The crime took place in an internet café owned by the murdered journalists. Rodríguez Ríos was also the local director of the National Press Professionals Union. Some hours before the murder, Rodríguez Ríos had covered the 15th anniversary of the Aguas Blancas Massacre, an incident that took place in 1995 in which 17 peasants died at the hands of the police of the Guerrero state.

During 2009, at least 10 journalists were murdered in Mexico. The state of Guerrero, where last year three journalists were murdered, has become one of the most dangerous places in the region to work as a journalist. During the initial months of 2010, six journalists have been reported murdered in Mexico, and at least five more kidnapped.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur urges the Mexican State to efficiently carry out the existing investigations into crimes against journalists and to adopt, as soon as possible, measures indispensible for protecting the free exercise of journalism, such as strengthening the Special Prosecutor, classifying crimes against journalists as federal crimes, and implementing permanent, specialized protective mechanisms for protecting the lives and personal safety of at-risk media workers.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur reminds the state that Principle 9 of the IACHR Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression states: "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."