Freedom of Expression

Press Release R 87/14



R 87/14




Washington D.C., August 16, 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 Octavio Rojas Hernández, correspondent with El Buen Tono, a newspaper printed in the state of Veracruz, which took place on August 11 in the town of San José Cosolapa, state of Oaxaca, 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 attack and to activate all the legal instruments available to identify and punish the perpetrators behind this crime.


According to the information received, Rojas Hernández, who was also the Director of Communications of the municipality, was at home when a man approached the place in the afternoon saying he was interested in purchasing Roja’s vehicle. The journalist left his house to talk to the person, who then shot him at least four times. According to the information available, on August 9 the journalist had published an article that linked the Cosolapa’s former Municipal Police Director with a group dedicated to gas stealing. The former Police Director’s whereabouts are currently unknown. The article was the latest in a series related to the ring of gas thieves. Although the articles appeared without a byline, Rojas Hernández was the only correspondent with the newspaper in the municipality, and he mostly covered the police beat.


The Office of the Public Prosecutor of the State of Oaxaca said in a press release that the appropriate investigations were opened once the event was known.


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. Similarly, the Office of the Special Rapporteur considers it essential to urgently assess whether the mechanisms of change in jurisdiction should be activated so that the case 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 [Mecanismo de Protección para Personas Defensoras de Derechos Humanos y Periodistas], 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."


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.