Freedom of Expression

Press Release R129/17

The Office of the Special Rapporteur condemns the murder of journalist Cándido Ríos Vázquez in Mexico and urges to investigate the relation to his activity


August 29, 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 the journalist Cándido Ríos Vázquez, correspondent of Diario de Acayucan and founder of La Voz de Hueyapan, in Mexico and urges the Mexican authorities to act in a prompt and timely manner to investigate, identify, and punish those responsible for this crime, both material and intellectually, and clarify its possible relation to the journalistic activity.


According to available information, on August 22 Rios would was the victim of a firearm attack in Covarrubias, state of Veracruz, perpetrated by at least three individuals. Along with the journalist there were two other men who were also killed. With a long career in investigative journalism, the communicator was under the safeguard of the Protection Mechanism for human rights defenders and journalists of Mexico since July 2013, and received legal assistance from the State Commission for the Protection of Journalists of Veracruz since 2012, when he filed a complaint against the ex-mayor of Hueyapan de Ocampo, Mr. Gaspar Gómez Jiménez, due to death threats. According to information of public knowledge, on October 26, 2016 the journalist sent a communication to the Special Prosecutor's Office for Crimes against Freedom of Expression (Feadle) and the Protection Mechanism for human rights defenders in which he denounced various aggressions and threats against him perpetrated by Mr. Gómez Jiménez since 2001. Days before Ríos's death, Mr. Gómez Jiménez published a video through social networks in which he made several threats against the journalist.


According to information provided by the State, on the same day, August 22nd, Feadle opened an investigation on the matter of Cándido Ríos Vázquez’ aggravated murder. The State of Mexico also informed that Feadle will provide continuity to the investigation.


The Office of the Special Rapporteur urges the State to investigate completely and impartially the hypothesis according to which the crime would be related to the exercise of freedom of expression, and to implement all the instruments it has in place to identify, prosecute, and punish those material and intellectually responsible. It also considers it essential that fair reparation measures be taken for the next of kin of the victims.


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. When such crimes go unpunished, this encourages the repetition of similar violent acts and may result in the silencing and self-censorship of communicators.


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: [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 is an office created by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (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.