Freedom of Expression

Press Release R11/11








Washington, D.C., February 14, 2011—The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression condemns the February 9 armed attack suffered by the Grupo Multimedios television station and the Radiorama radio station in the state of Coahuila, Mexico, which caused the death of an engineer from the station. The Office of the Special Rapporteur urges the State to urgently and adequately adopt effective measures to ensure the security of media outlets and their workers, and to undertake a diligent, timely investigation that makes it possible to identify and prosecute those responsible and appropriately compensate the victims and their family members.


According to the information that has been received, on Wednesday several masked, armed individuals entered the Radiorama broadcasting facilities, where they beat two persons and damaged equipment. They then burst into the Grupo Multimedios facilities, where they stole equipment and killed engineer Rodolfo Ochoa Moreno when he tried to telephone for help. The Multimedios Group had already suffered other attacks from organized crime. On May 26, 2009, Eliseo Barrón, a journalist of the daily La Opinion Milenio, was murdered, and in July of 2010 cameraman Javier Canales from Milenio TV was kidnapped.


The Office of the Special Rapporteur reminds the State of Mexico that, according to Principle 9 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." 


The crime committed on February 9 once again confirms the alarming situation of insecurity that affects Mexican media outlets and their employees, as the rapporteurs for freedom of expression of the IACHR and the United Nations confirmed during their joint visit to Mexico in August 2010. The Office of the Special Rapporteur reiterates the urgent need for the State to immediately implement a comprehensive policy for prevention, protection, and prosecution in order to guarantee the free and secure practice of journalism. These measures include strengthening the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Freedom of Expression, placing crimes against journalists under federal jurisdiction when required, and effectively implementing the protection mechanisms that were recently proposed.