Freedom of Expression

Press Release R54/11







Washington, D.C., June 7, 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 Noel López Olguín, who had disappeared on March 8, 2011, and whose body was found on May 31 in Veracruz, Mexico. The Office of the Special Rapporteur calls upon the State to conduct a diligent and thorough investigation of the crime, to identify the motives of the crime, to duly sanction those responsible and to put into effect a comprehensive policy of protection and criminal prosecution in the face of the violence suffered by journalists and the media in Mexico.


According to the information received, on March 8 Noel López Olguín left for the town of Soteapán, in southern Veracruz, but never arrived at his destination. On Sunday, May 29, police captured an alleged drug trafficker who confessed to the murder of López Olguín. Using the information obtained, the authorities were able to exhume the body, which had been buried in a clandestine grave in the village of Chinameca, in the state of Veracruz. On June 1 the journalist’s relatives identified his body.


Noel López Olguín worked as a contributor to several local media outlets in Veracruz, including the La Verdad newspaper and the weekly Noticias de Acayucan. According to the information received, he regularly denounced and actively questioned both the abuses committed by organized crime and local acts of corruption.


In 2011, four media workers have been murdered in Mexico in acts of violence directed against them or the media outlets in which they worked. On January 31, newspaper distributor Maribel Hernández was murdered in Ciudad Juárez while she was inside a vehicle with the logos of Ciudad Juárez’s El Diario and PM newspapers. On February 9, engineer Rodolfo Ochoa was killed in an attack on the transmission equipment of Grupo Multimedios Laguna television company in Coahuila. On March 25, the dead bodies of Luis Emanuel Ruiz Carrillo, a journalist for Coahuila’s La Prensa newspaper, and of José Luis Cerda Meléndez, a Televisa-Monterrey comedy show host, were found in Monterrey; they had been kidnapped the night before when leaving the station.


The Office of the Special Rapporteur once again urges the Mexican State to promote measures that protect journalists, as well as mechanisms to confront the serous deficiencies in the administration of justice with regard to these crimes. In particular, the Office of the Special Rapporteur has urged the State to strengthen the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Freedom of Expression, transfer investigations of crimes committed against media workers to the federal justice system, and implement security measures to safeguard the lives and wellbeing of threatened journalists. In addition, the Office of the Special Rapporteur insists that to combat impunity and the repetition of these acts, it is indispensable for all the perpetrators of such crimes to be identified, tried, and punished, and for the victims’ families to receive due reparations.


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


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