Freedom of Expression







Mexico City, August 24, 2010– The Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), Catalina Botero Marino, and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Opinion, Frank La Rue, concluded today their official joint visit to the United Mexican States, which took place from August 9-24, 2010. Today they also presented their conclusions to the Mexican authorities. The purpose of the visit was to assess the status of freedom of expression in the country.  

During the official visit, the Rapporteurs were in Mexico City and in the States of Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Guerrero and the State of Mexico. They met with over forty federal and state institutions of the executive, legislative and judicial branches, as well as with representatives of autonomous bodies. In addition, they held meetings with more than one hundred journalists, representatives of civil society organizations, relatives of murdered journalists, and members of the international community based in Mexico.

The Offices of the Special Rapporteurs are grateful for the invitation of the Mexican State, and underscore its openness in having facilitated all the conditions necessary for the conduct of their visit, which was the first joint visit to a country in the region.

The official visit concluded with a press conference today at Casa Lamm in Mexico City, where the Rappoteurs shared their conclusions with the Mexican and international media.

The Rapporteurs have verified that Articles 6 and 7 of the Mexican Constitution explicitly protect the rights to freedom of expression and access to information. Mexico also has notable legal advances to its credit such as the Transparency and Access to Government Information Act and its equivalents at the state level; the decriminalization of crimes against honor at the federal level and in several states; the right to protect the confidentiality of sources provided for in the Federal Code of Criminal Procedure; and Article 134 of the Mexican Constitution, insofar as it refers to government advertising. The Rapporteurs likewise regard positively the amendment to Article 1 of the Constitution passed by the Senate of the Republic, which grants constitutional status to international human rights treaties and which is pending before the House of Representatives. 

Nevertheless, the full enjoyment of freedom of expression in Mexico faces grave and diverse obstacles, including most notably the murder of journalists and other very serious acts of violence against those who disseminate information, ideas and opinions, and the widespread impunity in those cases.

The Rapporteurs are also concerned about the operation of criminal laws to penalize expression at the federal level, and in a significant number of states. The Rapporteurships also consider that the vigor, diversity and pluralism of the democratic debate in Mexico is seriously limited by a number of factors, including: the high concentration of ownership and control of mass media outlets that have been assigned radio and television frequencies; the absence of a clear, precise and equitable legal framework governing the allocation of said frequencies; the inexistence of mechanisms that provide access to alternative media; and the lack of regulations regarding government advertising. Finally, the Rapporteurs observe with concern an emerging trend toward the restriction of the right to access public information.  

The two Rapporteurs were motivated to undertake their joint visit, and to present these preliminary conclusions, precisely by the need to acknowledge this crisis and to join forces to find solutions together with the Mexican State and society. 

An English version of the executive summary of the Rapporteurs’ preliminary report is available at: