Freedom of Expression

Press Release R186/16

The Office of the Special Rapporteur Condemns the Killing of a Journalist in Mexico 


December 14, 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 killing of journalist Adrián Rodríguez Samaniego in Chihuahua, and urges the Mexican authorities to act swiftly and opportunely to investigate the crime and identify and punish those responsible, both the perpetrators and masterminds.

On Saturday, December 10, Adrián Rodríguez was in his automobile in front of his home when unknown individuals approached and shot him. According to the available information, the journalist worked at Antena Radio and covered matters associated with the state government; in the past, he had carried out investigations into topics associated with public safety for written media such as El Heraldo de Chihuahua. Family members indicated that the journalist had received death threats. He was recently carrying out an investigation into people who are arbitrarily imprisoned.

The governor of Chihuahua through a press release expressed regret over the killing of the journalist and stated that it will not remain in impunity. The State informed the Office of the Special Rapporteur that the State’s Attorney General’s Office and the Special Prosecutor's Office for Crimes committed against Freedom of Expression initiated the investigation in a parallel and coordinated manner in order to establish the facts and would have collected multiple interviews, expert reports and other evidence, tending to exhaust the line of research related to freedom of expression.


This is the eleventh killing of a journalist in Mexico in 2016. The Office of the Special Rapporteur expresses deep concern for the increase in violence against journalists in Mexico that is expressed in the increase in the number of journalists killed as compared to previous years, and whose deaths could be linked to the exercise of their profession. The Office of the Special Rapporteur documented the killing of 6 journalists in 2014 and another 6 in 2015.


In response to the complex situation of violence confronting journalism in the State of Chihuahua, in 2016 it put into operation an Early Warning System and Contingency Plans for the protection of the journalists of that state, consisting of a program of public policies aimed at avoiding potential aggressions against the men and women journalists of the region.

The situation of violence against journalists in Mexico has been cause for special concern for this Office. The Office of the Special Rapporteur recalls that the obligation to conduct the investigation with due diligence and to exhaust all logical lines of inquiry is particularly relevant in cases of violence against journalists; an investigation that fails to consider aspects connected to the context of the region, as well as the journalist’s professional activity, will be less likely to yield results. Similarly, the Office of the Special Rapporteur considers it essential to urgently assess the possibility of activating the legally provided mechanisms for taking over the investigation that would allow this case to be investigated and adjudicated immediately by Mexican federal authorities.

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."

When such 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.