Freedom of Expression

Press Release R95/11







Washington D.C. August 26, 2011— The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights condemns the kidnapping and murder of the journalist Humberto Millán, which transpired in Sinaloa, Mexico, and requests that authorities undertake an exhaustive investigation that takes into account the possibility that the crime was motivated by the exercise of journalism.


According to the information received, Humberto Millán was kidnapped by several armed men on the morning of August 24th, in Culiacán, Sinaloa, when he was on his way to the radio station Radio Fórmula, where he hosted a journalistic program. On the morning of August 25th, the journalist was found dead, with a bullet wound in the head.


According to the information received by the Office of the Special Rapporteur, in additional to his work on the radio, Humberto Millán directed the digital newspaper A Discusión, where he specialized in local and national political information. The journalist, with over 30 years of experience in communications media, was well-known for his critical commentaries and his reports regarding alleged acts of political corruption.


The Office of the Special Rapporteur had knowledge of the establishment of an investigation commission for this case, headed by the Procuraduría de Justicia (Office of the Attorney General) of the State of Sinaloa, in collaboration with the Procuraduría de Justicia de la República (Office of the Attorney General of the Republic), and urges the authorities to carry out an exhaustive analysis of the circumstances of the crime and the journalistic work of the victim, as a possible motive of the homicide.


This is the sixth homicide committed against journalist in Mexico in 2011, possibly related to the practice of the victim’s profession. In 2011 the disappearance and subsequent murder of Noel López Olguín, on March 8 in Veracruz; the homicides of Luis Ruiz Carrillo y José Luis Cerda Meléndez, on March 25 in Monterrey; the death of Miguel Ángel López Velasco, on June 20 in Veracruz; and the murder of Yolanda Ordaz, on July 26 in Boca del Río, Veracruz have been reported. Furthermore, on June 7 the journalist Marco Antonio López Ortiz disappeared in Guerrero, and his whereabouts are still unknown. In other attacks against communications media the newspaper distributor Maribel Hernández died on January 31 in Ciudad Juárez; and the engineer Rodolfo Ochoa Moreno died on February 9 in Coahuila.


The Office of the Special Rapporteur again expresses its concern regarding these killings and urgently calls upon the authorities to strengthen the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Freedom of Expression, transfer of investigations into crimes committed against members of the media to the federal justice system when required, and the implement security measures recently created that protect the lives and safety of threatened journalists. Additionally, the Office of the Special Rapporteur insists that in order to combat impunity for the crimes committed as well as the repetition of this type of 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 measures of reparations.


The ninth principle of the IACHR Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression 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."