Freedom of Expression

Press Release R70-10




Washington D.C., July 15, 2010.- The Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) strongly condemns renewed acts of violence that, in separate incidents, took the lives of two journalists in Mexico and damaged a radio station's installations.

Journalist Marco Aurelio Martínez Tijerina, of the broadcasting station XEDD Radio La Tremenda in Montemorelos, in the state of Nuevo León, was kidnapped in that city last Friday night, July 9, and his body was found July 10 with a bullet wound to the head. Martínez covered political news and also worked as a correspondent for national Mexican media outlets.

Audiovisual producer and cameraman Guillermo Alcaraz Trejo was riddled with bullets by masked gunmen as he was leaving the newspaper Omnia, in Chihuahua, where he had been visiting former colleagues, on Saturday, July 10. Alcaraz was responsible for producing educational programs for the State Human Rights Commission of Chihuahua.

In another attack, unknown individuals threw a grenade, which did not explode, at the installations of the broadcasting station AW Noticias (XEAW 1290 AM) in Monterrey, state of Nuevo León, on the night of Friday, July 9. The device broke the glass of the main door to the radio station.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur reiterates that, as established in Principle 9 of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression, "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."

In this regard, the Office of the Special Rapporteur urges the Mexican authorities to conduct timely and effective investigations that identify the perpetrators of these crimes and lead to their prosecution and punishment. The conviction of those responsible for crimes against journalists and the media is a necessary condition to dissuade these attacks, compensate the victims, and provide effective protection of freedom of expression.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur urges the Mexican State to immediately adopt measures to protect the free and safe exercise of journalism, such as strengthening the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Freedom of Expression; making crimes against journalists federal offenses; and implementing security measures to protect the life and physical integrity of journalists who have received threats.

The deaths of Martínez and Alcaraz bring to nine the number of journalists killed in Mexico so far this year. Hugo Alfredo Olivero died on July 6 in Michoacán; on June 28, Juan Francisco Rodríguez Ríos and Elvira Hernández Galeana were killed in Guerrero state; Jorge Rábago Valdez was killed on March 2 in Tamaulipas; Jorge Ochoa Martínez was killed on January 29 in Guerrero; José Luis Romero was found dead on January 16 in Tamaulipas; and Valentín Valdés Espinosa was killed on January 7 in Coahuila. In addition, at least five journalists have been kidnapped this year.

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