Freedom of Expression

Press Release R97/11






Washington, D.C., September 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 journalists Marcela Yarce Viveros and Rocío González Trápaga, whose bodies were found in a Mexico City park on September 1.


The authorities have not determined the motives behind the killings and are investigating several hypotheses.  The Office of the Special Rapporteur requests that the authorities not rule out the possibility that the deaths were tied to the journalists’ professional practice and urges to conduct a thorough investigation, to clarify the circumstances of the crimes, identify and punish those responsible, and ensure just compensation for the victims' next of kin.


According to the information that has been received, the journalists had an appointment on the night of August 31. The last known contact with them was reportedly around 10 p.m. On the morning of September 1, some people passing through El Mirador park, in the Mexico City neighborhood of Iztapalapa, found the women's bodies, which showed signs of violence. Hours later, the authorities confirmed the identity of the victims.


Marcela Yarce, one of the founders of the magazine Contralínea, worked as a reporter and handled public relations for that publication. She had previously worked for various media outlets, both in the print media and television. Rocío González was a freelance journalist and a former news reporter for the Televisa television network.


Contralínea, founded in 2002, has become known for its critical coverage of political issues and especially for its important reporting on corruption. The magazine and its journalists have been targets of various acts of intimidation and harassment, including armed attacks, threats, the theft of equipment and information, and judicial restrictions.


These two murders bring to eight the number of journalists killed in Mexico in 2011 with regard to which authorities have not ruled out a connection to the practice of journalism. The previously reported homicides were those of Noel López Olguín, on March 8 in Veracruz; Luis Ruiz Carrillo and José Luis Cerda Meléndez, on March 25 in Monterrey; Miguel Ángel López Velasco, on June 20 in Veracruz; Yolanda Ordaz, on July 26 in Boca del Río, Veracruz; and Humberto Millán, on August 25 in Culiacán. In addition, on June 7 journalist Marco Antonio López Ortiz disappeared in Guerrero, and his whereabouts are still unknown. In other attacks on the media, newspaper distributor Maribel Hernández died on January 31 in Ciudad Juárez, and engineer Rodolfo Ochoa Moreno died on February 9 in Coahuila.


The Office of the Special Rapporteur once again urges the State to urgently adopt all necessary measures to prevent such crimes, protect journalists who are at risk, and act quickly and decisively to carry out the appropriate investigations, without ruling out the possibility that the murders could be related to the victims' reporting. Clarifying these crimes and punishing those responsible are essential steps in deterring violence against the press in Mexico.


The situation of violence against communications media and journalists in Mexico has been presented in the special report of this Office regarding the situation of freedom of expression in Mexico, which emphatically recommends that Mexican authorities urgently adopt measures such as strengthening the capacity and resources of the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Freedom of Expression; transferring the investigation and prosecution of crimes against media workers to the federal justice system, in cases in which this is warranted; and quickly and effectively implementing the necessary security mechanisms to safeguard the lives and well-being of journalists who have been threatened.


Principle 9 of the 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."


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