The Office of the Special Rapporteur condemns the murder of journalist Mardonio Mejía Mendoza in Colombia and calls on the State to investigate the facts.

February 1, 2024

Washington D.C. - The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression (RELE) of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the murder of journalist Mardonio Mejía Mendoza, and calls on the Colombian State to investigate with due diligence, taking into consideration the journalist's work as a possible motive for the crime.

According to available information, on January 24 at night an armed man entered the home of journalist Mejía Mendoza and shot him with a firearm in the municipality of San Pedro, Sucre department. The journalist was taken to a health center, but because of the seriousness of the injuries he died on the way.

Mejía Mendoza was director of the Sonora Estéreo radio station, where he had a program called Amanecer Campesino, and broadcast general news and information aimed at farm workers.

In response to these events, the governor's office, the municipal mayor's office and the departmental police held an extraordinary security council. In particular, the Special Rapporteurship values the statements made by the Governor of the department of Sucre, Lucy García Montes, who strongly rejected the murder of the journalist and reiterated the commitment of local authorities to clarify the facts.

For its part, the State informed the Office of the Special Rapporteur on the capture of a person allegedly responsible for the crime, and indicated that, to date, no requests for protection measures in favor of the journalist have been registered. Likewise, the State expressed to this Office its profound rejection of the death of Mejía Mendoza and strongly condemned the attack against him. However, to date, the Office of the Special Rapporteur has not recorded any public reactions from the national authorities regarding the facts.

Likewise, the Rapporteurship took note of the information published by civil society, which indicates that the department where the crime against Mejía Mendoza was committed is experiencing a context of violence, and therefore reiterates its call to the State to guarantee security conditions for journalists to be able to carry out their work.

In this regard, this Office reiterates that "[t]he murder, kidnapping, intimidation, threats to social communicators, as well as the material destruction of the media, violate the fundamental rights of individuals and severely restrict freedom of expression. It is the duty of the States to prevent and investigate these acts, punish the perpetrators and ensure adequate reparation to the victims".

Finally, the Rapporteurship emphasizes that in cases of murders of journalists, public rejection from the highest authorities, investigation and exemplary punishment are transcendental for non-repetition. In this regard, the Commission and the Inter-American Court have pointed out that "impunity fosters the chronic repetition of human rights violations and the total defenselessness of the victims and their families", and generates a strong inhibiting effect on the exercise of freedom of expression.

Therefore, this Office urges the Colombian State to investigate the crime with due diligence, punish those responsible and take all necessary measures to guarantee and strengthen the protection of journalists in this region and in the country in general.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression is an office created by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to encourage the hemispheric defense of the right to freedom of thought and expression, considering its fundamental role in the consolidation and development of the democratic system.

No. R026/24

2:40 PM