Freedom of Expression

Press Release R38/11







Washington, D.C., May 2, 2011— The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the murder of Salvadoran cameraman Alfredo Hurtado and asks the authorities of that country to conduct a thorough investigation that takes into account the possibility that the crime may have been motivated by the victim’s work in journalism.


According to the information that has been received, Alfredo Hurtado was on his way to work on the night of Monday, April 25, when two armed men boarded the bus in which he was riding and shot him several times. The killers did not steal any of his belongings and reportedly escaped to a nearby area where criminal gangs are known to operate.


According to the information available, Hurtado worked as a cameraman on the night shift for the news program Teleprensa, on Channel 33, and had more than 20 years of work experience. On a daily basis, he covered criminal activity and information related to gang violence. The Salvadoran police authorities have suggested various theories as a motive for the murder; however, spokespersons for the company where he worked and Salvadoran journalism organizations do not rule out the possibility that the crime could be related to the cameraman’s professional activity.


The Office of the Special Rapporteur urges the Salvadoran authorities to prevent impunity for this crime by persisting in their investigations to clarify the motive of the crime and by prosecuting and duly punishing those responsible. Combating impunity is an essential step to deter violence and its impact on rights such as the right to life and to freedom of expression.


The Office of the Special Rapporteur calls to mind that Principle 9 of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights states: "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."