Freedom of Expression

Press Release R36/11







Washington D.C., April 25, 2011 The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) deplores the violent death of journalist David Niño de Guzmán and considers the order given by President Evo Morales to immediately start the investigation of the circumstances of the journalist’s death of the greatest importance.  The Office of the Special Rapporteur believes it is fundamental for the authorities to conduct a diligent and thorough investigation in order to combat impunity, clarify the motives behind this fatality, ensure that the victim’s family receives due compensation and avoid the repetition of crimes of such extreme violence.


According to the information received, David Niño de Guzmán disappeared on the evening of Tuesday, April 19, when he left his apartment after answering a phone call. He was found dead on Thursday, April 21, on the bank of a river in La Paz, killed by an explosive device.  The authorities have not determined the motives behind his death and are investigating several hypotheses.  The Office of the Special Rapporteur requests that the authorities not rule out the possibility that the death was tied to the journalist’s professional practice.


David Niño, 42, was news director for the Agencia de Noticias Fides, an agency affiliated with the Catholic Church in Bolivia.  He had worked for more than 15 years for several Bolivian communication media, such as Presencia, Última Hora, La Razón and El Diario.


Principle 9 of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression states that the "murder, kidnapping, intimidation of and/or threats against social communicators, as well as the material destruction of communications media, violates the fundamental rights of individuals and strongly restricts 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."  Indeed, acts of this nature are not only an attack on the victim’s human rights, but they also have a grave chilling effect that severely affects the right to freedom of expression.