Freedom of Expression

Press Release R95/10




Washington D.C., September 17, 2010 – The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns yesterday’s attack against two photographers in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, in which Luis Carlos Santiago was killed and one of his colleagues was injured. The Office of the Special Rapporteur considers the ongoing murder of journalists in Mexico to be a situation of the utmost gravity, and this latest murder brings the number of deaths to at least ten this year. The Office of the Special Rapporteur calls upon the State to immediately take the action necessary to deter and prevent the repetition of these crimes.  

According to the information received, unknown gunmen shot the two press photographers from El Diario of Ciudad Juarez in a public parking lot in that city in northern Mexico. Santiago died at the scene, and his colleague was transported to a hospital.

As the IACHR and United Nations Rapporteurs for Freedom of Expression confirmed on their joint visit to Mexico this past August, the violence against members of the media in Mexico is alarming and becoming increasingly serious. The crime committed yesterday reaffirms the urgent need for the State to immediately implement a comprehensive policy of prevention, protection, and the provision of justice to address the critical conditions of violence faced by journalists in Mexico.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur urges the Mexican State to promote measures that protect the free and safe practice of journalism, such as the strengthening of the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Journalists, the transfer of investigations into crimes committed against members of the media to the federal justice system, and the implementation of security measures that protect the lives and safety of threatened journalists.

Santiago’s death brings the number of murdered media workers to at least ten in 2010. Marco Aurelio Martínez Tijerina was found dead on July 10 in Montemorelos, Nuevo León. Guillermo Alcaraz Trejo was gunned down on July 10 in the city of Chihuahua. Hugo Alfredo Olivera died on July 6 in Michoacán; Juan Francisco Rodríguez Ríos and Elvira Hernández Galeana were killed on June 28 in Guerrero; Jorge Rábago Valdez was murdered on March 2 in Tamaulipas; Jorge Ochoa Martínez was murdered on January 29 in Guerrero; José Luis Romero was found dead on January 16 in Tamaulipas, and Valentín Valdés Espinosa died on January 7 in Coahuila. In addition, at least nine journalists have been kidnapped since January.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur reminds the Mexican State that, according to the ninth principle of the IACHR 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."