Freedom of Expression

Press Release R5/18

Office of the Special Rapporteur Condemns Murder of Journalist Carlos Domínguez in Mexico and Urges the State to Investigate Connection to Journalistic Activity

January 19, 2018

Washington, DC. The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the murder of journalist Carlos Domínguez in Mexico and urges the State to investigate the crime with due diligence and establish whether it may have been related to his journalistic activity.

 According to the information available, Carlos Domínguez was the victim of a knife attack on January 13 while stopped at a red light in the city of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas. Domínguez’s daughter-in-law and grandchildren, who escaped the incident unharmed, were reportedly with him in the car at the time.

 The same day, Tamaulipas State Attorney General Irving Barrios Mujica said that no complaints had been previously filed in connection with the journalist with his office or with the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Freedom of Expression (FEADLE). He also stated that the state Investigative Police were still conducting inquiries into the case.

In a statement released on January 14, the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) affirmed that it had been in contact with close relatives of the victim after the incident, and had asked the Government of the State of Tamaulipas to issue precautionary measures for their protection.

Carlos Domínguez had worked as a reporter for Diario de Nuevo Laredo, and was working for Noreste Digital at the time of his death. In Columna Política, the column that he wrote, Domínguez published analyses and critiques related to social, political, and economic issues—including public security issues—at the local and federal levels.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur calls upon the Mexican State to investigate this crime completely, effectively, and impartially, determining the motives and any relationship they may bear to journalistic activity and freedom of expression. The authorities should not rule out the practice of journalism as a possible motive for the murder and/or attack before the investigation has been completed, and they should provide the institutions responsible for the investigation of these types of matters with adequate resources and specialized personnel.  

After its recent in loco visit to Mexico, the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, together with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, underscored that attacks on journalists in Mexico "persist today, accompanied by a continuing sense of insecurity and impunity. The systematic nature of the violence demands not just specific individual measures but also ones of a structural nature. […] We urge the Mexican government to replace this paradigm of impunity with one of effective investigation, prosecution and monitoring consistent with its international obligations."

 Both the Commission and the Inter-American Court have referred to the chilling effect that crimes against journalists have on other media professionals, as well as on citizens who wish to denounce abuse of power or illegal acts of any kind.  

 Principle 9 of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression of the IACHR 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 was created by the 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.