Freedom of Expression

Press Release R263/18

Office of the Special Rapporteur Condemns Murder of Journalists in Mexico and Calls on New Government to Redouble Efforts to Prevent Violence against Journalists

December 13, 2018

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 journalists Jesús Alejandro Márquez Jiménez and Diego García Corona in Mexico and urges the new government to redouble its efforts to strengthen prevention and protection policies for all types of violence against journalists and the media. Likewise, this Office calls on the Mexican State to fully, effectively, and impartially investigate these crimes and others that are unpunished, clarify their motives, and judicially determine the relationship they may have with journalism and freedom of expression.

According to the information available, on December 1, the body of journalist Jesús Alejandro Márquez Jiménez was found in an area near the airport of the municipality of Tepic, in the state of Nayarit, Mexico, and presented several bullet wounds.

Márquez Jiménez worked as director of Orión Informativo, and would have collaborated in the Crítica Digital journal for 8 years. According to the information, after receiving a call on Friday afternoon he left his home and after several hours of being incommunicado, his family members reported to the corresponding authorities his disappearance.

According to the information disseminated in the media, the journalist would also have engaged in political activities and would have been a candidate for public office in the municipality of Tuxpan.

According to available information, the person who would be the spokesperson of the new presidential administration, Jesús Ramírez Cuevas, expressed through his social network his regret over the murder of the journalist and said that the Government would not rest "until achieving a Mexico where there is justice, freedom of expression, and security".

In addition, the Office of the Special Rapporteur was informed of the murder of journalist Diego García Corona, a reporter for the weekly Morelos. The journalist was shot dead on the night of December 4 in a street in the municipality of Ecatepec, State of Mexico, when he was driving in his vehicle. The National Press Union [Sindicato Nacional de Redactores de la Prensa] condemned the murder and reported that the journalist was carrying his reporter identification. Also, this organization raised concerns on the fact that the prosecutor’s office had indicated only the hypothesis of theft as the possible cause of the murder, without having explored all the lines of investigation. On the other hand, the spokesman for the new presidential administration, Jesús Ramírez Cuevas, also condemned the murder through his social media and stated that they are currently working on a "plan of prevention, protection, access to justice and reparation of damage to provide guarantees to journalists."

"For the Office of the Special Rapporteur, it is essential that public authorities speak out against these crimes that seek to undermine freedom of expression in the country," said Edison Lanza, Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression. "The new government must give clear messages that it will not tolerate this type of crime and that it will act quickly so that this crime and other crimes do not remain unpunished," he concluded.

With a figure similar to 2017, together with this crime at least 12 journalists have been murdered in Mexico for reasons related to professional work, which suggests that violence against journalists continues to seriously affect Mexican society.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur recalls that the authorities should not rule out the exercise of journalism as a motive for murder and/or aggression before the investigation is completed, as well as providing adequate resources and specialized personnel to the institutions responsible for the investigation of this type of issues.

After an 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.