Freedom of Expression

Press Release R143/18

Office of the Special Rapporteur of the IACHR expresses alarm and condemns mass shooting inside Capital Gazette newsroom in the United States

July 2, 2018

Washington D.C. - The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses alarm and condemns the mass shooting inside Capital Gazette´s newsroom and urges the United States to ensure that the state of Maryland continues the investigation to ensure the criminal prosecution and punishment of the alleged perpetrator if and when found guilty.

The attack on the afternoon of June 28th resulted in the death of four journalists and an employee of the media based in Annapolis, capital of the state of Maryland. According to the information available, the alleged perpetrator has already been arrested by the authorities.

According to media reports, the alleged perpetrator had previously sued the newspaper for defamation. Following the dismissal of the claim the perpetrator made threats against the Capital Gazette through social media.

"The shooting is a serious attack on freedom of expression and a threat to journalism in the United States," said Special Rapporteur Edison Lanza. "When a journalist is killed for exercising his profession, the whole society suffers," he said.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur calls the authorities in the United States to ensure that public discourse regarding the media in the country reinforces the importance of role of journalism for the maintenance of democracy and condemn any act of violence against the press.

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.