Freedom of Expression

Press Release R 64/14


R 64/14


Washington D.C., June 10, 2014 – The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the murder of journalist Jorge Torres Palacios, a government spokesman and columnist for the weekly media outlet El Dictamen de Guerrero, whose body was found on June 2 at the outskirts of the city of Acapulco, state of Guerrero, Mexico. The Office of the Special Rapporteur expresses its concern and urges the Mexican authorities to take urgent action to establish the motive of the crime and to activate all the legal instruments available to identify and punish the perpetrators behind this crime.

According to the information received, on May 29 a group of armed men kidnapped Torres Palacios when he returned home. On the afternoon of June 2, authorities found his body in a bag in the town of Plan de los Amates, outside Acapulco, Guerrero. The body was recognized by his children. According to the information received, some local journalists criticized official statements and press releases in which authorities referred only to Torres’ government position and did not acknowledge his journalistic work. Shortly before his death Torres had written columns which were critical of local officials.

The State reported that both Office of the Public Prosecutor of the State of Guerrero, and the Office of the Special Public Prosecutor for Crimes against Freedom of Expression of the Attorney General immediately opened a preliminary investigation.

Violence against journalists in Mexico has been of particular concern to this Office. The Special Rapporteur urges the authorities to thoroughly investigate the hypothesis that the crime could have been associated with the journalist’s work.

Principle 9 of the IACHR Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression states: "[t]he 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."

The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression was created by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to encourage the defense of the right to freedom of thought and expression in the hemisphere, given the fundamental role this right plays in consolidating and developing the democratic system.