Freedom of Expression

Press release R120/17

Office of the Special Rapporteur condemns murder of journalist Luciano Rivera in Mexico and urges to investigate the relation to his activity


August 15, 2017


Washington, D.C. - The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the murder of journalist Luciano Rivera, director of the magazine Dictamen and reporter for CNR TV, in Mexico and urges the State to investigate the crime with due diligence, and clarify its possible relation to the journalistic activity.


According available information, the journalist Rivera was murdered in the early morning of August 1 in the municipality of Playas de Rosarito, Baja California state. Five individuals would have entered the bar where he was and one of them shot the journalist. According to information provided by the State, that same day the Office of the Special Prosecutor on Crimes Committed against Freedom of Expression (FEADLE) sent an official letter to the public prosecutor of Playas de Rosarito soliciting endorsed copies of the investigation’s dossier and started an investigation itself. The local authorities reported that one of the alleged suspects was detained. According to available information, the weapon used in the crime is linked to at least three other murders. On August 1, Baja California deputy prosecutor Patricia Ortega would have reported to the local media that there are no indications that Rivera's murder is related to his journalistic work.


According to the available information, the material authors of the murder fled using the same taxi in which they had arrived to the crime scene. Also, in his journalistic work, Rivera had been publishing complaints against the local police, investigations about events of violence possibly related to organized crime, and cases related to public safety in Playa de Rosarito.


The Office of the Special Rapporteur calls on the Mexican State to fully, effectively, and impartially investigate this crime, clarify its motives, and judicially determine the relation it may have with journalistic activity and freedom of expression. Authorities should not rule out the practice of journalism as a motive for murder and / or aggression before the investigation is completed.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur reminds the State that, regarding the impunity of crimes related to freedom of expression, it is essential to exhaust the line of investigation related to the exercise of the profession in cases of crimes against journalists, as well as to provide adequate resources and specialized personnel to the institutions responsible for investigating such matters.


Both the Commission and the Inter-American Court have addressed the chilling effect that crimes against journalists have on other media professionals as well as on citizens who intend to report abuses of power or unlawful acts of any kind. This chilling effect can only be prevented, according to the Commission, "by swift action on the part of the State to punish all perpetrators, as is its duty under international and domestic law."


Principle 9 of the IACHR's 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."


The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression is an office created by the IACHR to stimulate a hemispheric defense of the right to freedom of thought and expression, considering its fundamental role in the consolidation and development of the democratic system.