Freedom of Expression

Press Release R57/16

Office of the Special Rapporteur Condemns New Killing of Journalist in Mexico

April 29, 2016

Washington, D.C. – The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the April 25 killing of journalist Francisco Pacheco Beltrán in Taxco, Guerrero State, Mexico, and urges Mexican authorities to act promptly and appropriately to investigate the crime and to identify and punish both the direct perpetrators and the masterminds.
This is the fourth reported murder of a journalist in Mexico this year: Marcos Hernández Bautista was killed on January 21 in San Andrés Huaxpaltepec, in the State of Oaxaca; on February 9, Anabel Flores Salazar was found dead in the State of Puebla, and the body of journalist Moisés Dagdug Lutzow was found on February 20. Eight journalists were murdered in the country in 2014, allegedly in connection with the exercise of their freedom of expression, and six cases were reported in 2015.
According to the available information, Pacheco was working for the newspapers El Sol de Acapulco and El Faro de Taxco, as well as for the Capital Máxima radio station in Chilpancingo. He also had his own Internet news portal, Pacheco Digital, where he covered events in his home state of Guerrero, one of the most violent in the nation.

The Mexican State informed that the Special Public Prosecutor for Crimes against Freedom of Expression [Fiscalía Especial para la Atención de Delitos contra la Libertad de Expresión] (Feadle), the Office of the General Public Prosecutor of the Republic [Procuraduría General de la República] in the state of Guerrero and the Office of the General Public Prosecutor of the state opened an investigation on this killing and that the Feadle and the Executive Commission for the Attention of Victims [Comisión Ejecutiva de Atención a Víctimas] are following the case, in communication with the victim’s family.

Furthermore, the Ministry of the Interior [Secretaría de Gobernación] put in contact with the journalist’s family the day of the crime to offer the possibility of being included in the Protection Mechanism for human rights defenders and journalists. The family expressed on Thursday 28 its will to be included, and it will therefore be done.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur urges the authorities to thoroughly investigate the hypothesis that these crimes were linked to the exercise of freedom of expression and the defense of human rights, and to put in practice all the legal instruments available to identify, prosecute and punish the perpetrators and masterminds responsible for these murders. The Office also considers it fundamental to adopt fair measures of reparation for the families of the journalists killed.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur considers it essential to urgently assess whether the mechanisms of change in jurisdiction should be activated so that these cases could be investigated and prosecuted immediately by federal authorities. This Office also considers it fundamental to consolidate the Mechanism to Protect Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, and to strengthen the interagency coordination mechanisms between federal authorities and the various levels of government to ensure the proper adoption and implementation of protection measures.

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."

When those crimes remain unpunished, it encourages the repetition of similar violent acts and could result in the silencing and self-censorship of media workers.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression was created by the 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.