Freedom of Expression

Press Release R47/11





Washington, D.C., May 23, 2011 — The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the murder of journalist Wilfred Ojeda Peralta, which occurred on Tuesday, May 17, and recognizes the steps taken by the Scientific, Criminal, and Forensic Investigations Corps [Cuerpo de Investigaciones Científicas, Penales y Criminalísticas] (CICPC) to investigate the circumstances of the crime immediately. The Office of the Special Rapporteur considers it essential for the authorities to undertake exhaustive and diligent investigations in order to establish the motives of the crime, punish those responsible, guarantee that reparations be made to the next-of-kin, and prevent the repetition of this type of violence.

According to the information received, Wilfred Ojeda was found murdered in the early morning hours of May 17 in a deserted and isolated area of the town of Revenga, in the State of Aragua. He was found hooded, with his hands bound, and had been shot in the head. His abandoned vehicle was found several kilometers away in the town of Loma Lisa. The journalist had left his house as usual on May 16, and called his family that afternoon, at which time he showed no signs of alarm. He had not reported any threats against him or been aware of any danger. Agents from the CICPC immediately opened an investigation into the crime.

Wilfred Ojeda, who was 56 years of age, wrote an opinion column entitled "Dimensión Crítica" ["Critical Aspect"] in the daily newspaper Clarín, in La Victoria, State of Aragua, in which he frequently called state authorities into question. According to the information available, Ojeda was also an activist in the opposition Democratic Action Party [Partido Acción Democrática] (AD), and years ago had held municipal and regional office as a member of that party.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur has been informed that the criminal investigators are examining different theories regarding the motives of the crime. In this respect, the Office of the Special Rapporteur asks the Venezuelan authorities not to discount the possibility that the murder was motivated by Ojeda’s journalistic work. Clarification of this crimes and punishment of those responsible are an essential step toward deterring violence and its impact on rights such as the right to life and freedom of expression.

Principle 9 of the IACHR Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression states that "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."

For more information on the Office of the Special Rapporteur, please visit: