Freedom of Expression

Press Release R67/10


N° R67/10





Washington, D.C., July 8, 2010. —The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses deep concern over the murder of journalist Hugo Alfredo Olivera, who was found dead on July 6 near the city of Apatzingán, in Mexico's Michoacán state. It asks the Mexican authorities to conduct a prompt and diligent investigation so as to identify and punish those responsible for the crime.


According to information that has been received, at 3 a.m. police found the journalist's body inside his vehicle, with bullet wounds to the head. Olivera had gone out to cover a story, but never returned home. The journalist was the editor of the newspaper El Día de Michoacán and headed the ADN regional news agency. He was also a correspondent for and contributor to various regional and national media outlets. Olivera wrote about police and political issues.


According to information confirmed by Mexican and international press organizations, in the early morning hours of July 6, unidentified individuals entered the offices of El Día de Michoacán and stole computers and memory storage devices.


Olivera's death brings to seven the number of journalists who have been killed in Mexico in 2010. On June 28, Juan Francisco Rodríguez Ríos and Elvira Hernández Galeana were killed in Guerrero state; Jorge Rábago Valdez was killed on March 2 in Tamaulipas; Jorge Ochoa Martínez was killed on January 29 in Guerrero; José Luis Romero was found dead on January 16 in Tamaulipas; and Valentín Valdés Espinosa was killed on January 7 in Coahuila. In addition, at least five journalists have been kidnapped this year.


The Office of the Special Rapporteur urgently calls on the Mexican authorities to prevent the impunity of crimes against journalists, a necessary step to prevent new murders intended to silence members of the media. It is essential to immediately adopt measures designed to protect the free and safe exercise of journalism, such as the strengthening of the Special Prosecutor's Office, the attention of the federal justice system to attacks against journalists, and the implementation of effective, prompt security measures to guarantee the life and physical integrity of journalists who have received threats.


As stated in Principle 9 of the IACHR Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression, it is the duty of the State to prevent and investigate murders and acts of aggression against journalists, punish their perpetrators, and ensure that victims receive just compensation.