Freedom of Expression




PREN R76/09






Washington, D.C., November 4, 2009- The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the murder of journalist Jose Bladimir Antuna Garcia, reporter of the newspaper El Tiempo, of Durango, whose body was allegedly found the night of November 2 in Durango, Mexico. Before his assassination, he had repeatedly indicated that he had received death threats, due to his investigations on corruption and organized crime. The Office of the Special Rapporteur calls on the Mexican authorities to investigate this crime and to duly arrest, judge and sanction all those responsible. The Special Rapporteurship also calls on the Mexican authorities to implement adequate mechanisms to protect journalists who are at risk in all its territory, and to adopt effective mechanisms to end impunity in cases of crimes against journalists.


The Office of the Special Rapporteur received information according to which Antuna Garcia was kidnapped the morning of the day he was killed. His body was allegedly found with a message whose contents have not been revealed by the authorities. The information adds that Antuna Garcia, who covered police and judicial news, had said that he had met with Mexican journalist Eliseo Barron, of newspaper La Opinion, shortly before Barron was killed on May 26, 2009 (see Rapporteurship’s Press Release 34/09). The meeting was to exchange information on police corruption and organized crime. Days after the killing of Eliseo Barron, Antuna García allegedly indicated that he had been receiving death threats on his cellular phone and in the news room of El Tiempo. He said the threats were delivered by the criminal organization Los Zetas, linked to the Golfo Cartel. According to the information received, Antuna Garcia’s residence had been attacked with fire arms on April 28, 2009.


At least nine journalists were killed this year in Mexico for reasons related to their professional activity. In the State of Durango were assassinated Antuna Garcia and Eliseo Barron, and also, on May 3, 2009, Carlos Ortega, who also worked for newspaper El Tiempo. Nine journalists were killed and one disappeared in Mexico in 2006; in 2007, three reporters were killed and three disappeared; in 2008, five journalists were killed and one disappeared.


The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression urges the Mexican authorities to investigate the killing of Antuna Garcia and to ensure that those responsible are duly tried and punished. It also calls on the State to resolutely advance existing investigations into crimes against journalists, and to act as soon as possible to adopt urgent measures to protect persons working with the media, such as strengthening the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Journalists, making crimes against journalists federal offenses; and implementing permanent, specialized protection measures to guarantee the life and integrity of journalists who are at risk.


The Office of the Special Rapporteur reminds that Principle 9 of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression of the IACHR states that "the murder, kidnapping, intimidation of and/or threats against social communicators, as well as the material destruction of communications media, violates the fundamental rights of individuals and strongly restricts 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."