Freedom of Expression

Press Release R26/11






Washington, D.C., March 29, 2011 — The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the murder in Mexico of a Televisa comedy show host, his cousin and a reporter for the newspaper La Prensa in Coahuila. The Office of the Special Rapporteur calls upon the Mexican State to investigate the crime, to identify and punish the perpetrators, and appropriately compensate the victims and their family members.

According to the information received, the El Club comedy show host, José Luis Cerda Melendez, was found dead on Friday, March 25 in the city of Monterrey. In another area of the city were found the bodies of Luis Ruiz Carrillo, who was working on a feature story about Cerda, and Juan Roberto Gómez Meléndez, Jose Luis Cerda´s cousin. They had been kidnapped on March 24 near the TV station where Cerda worked, after finishing that night’s TV show broadcast.

As the IACHR and United Nations Rapporteurs for Freedom of Expression confirmed on their joint visit to Mexico last August, violence against members of the media in Mexico is alarming and becoming increasingly serious. The crimes committed yesterday reaffirm 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 secure practice of journalism, such as the strengthening of the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Freedom of Expression, the transfer of investigations into crimes committed against members of the media to the federal justice system when required, and the correct implementation of security measures recently created that protect the lives and safety of threatened journalists.

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."