Freedom of Expression

Press Release R101/12






Washington, D.C., August 3, 2012. – The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its concern over three attacks against El Norte newspaper that have taken place in less than a month in the state of Nuevo León, and several other threats against journalists in different parts of the country. The Office of the Special Rapporteur urges the Mexican authorities to immediately take the necessary measures to protect the newspaper and the journalists that have been threatened, to investigate the incidents thoroughly, to identify and prosecute the responsible parties, and to prevent new aggressions.


According to the information received, in the early hours of July 10, 2012, a person detonated a fragmentation grenade outside the offices of La Silla, a supplement of El Norte newspaper, in the city of Monterrey. In the afternoon, a branch office of the same newspaper, where the Linda Vista supplement is headquartered in the municipality of Guadalupe, north of Monterrey, was allegedly attacked with bullets and a grenade. On the afternoon of Sunday, July 29, several attackers broke into the offices of the Sierra Madre supplement, in the municipality of San Pedro, immobilized the security guard, and set the first floor on fire. None of the three attacks caused any injuries.


The Office of the Special Rapporteur also regrets the threats allegedly received by several media workers over the last weeks. On July 16, unidentified individuals broke into the house of Hiram González Machi, a journalist for the Nuevo Día newspaper and Channel 7, both in Nogales, and left a note that read "You’re going to die, reporter." The journalist Cecilia Cota Carrasco from El Diario newspaper in Sinaloa claimed last weekend that she was threatened by a former candidate for the Federal Congress, who warned her that he was capable of committing violent acts against her and her family. Finally, on July 29, journalist Lydia Cacho, who is the beneficiary of precautionary measures of the IACHR, received new and serious death threats that are directly related to the exercise of her profession.


As the Office of the Special Rapporteur stated in its Special Report on Freedom of Expression in México, the attacks against freedom of expression in this country have forced many journalists and media outlets to refrain from publishing news about corruption or organized crime as a safety measure, depriving Mexican society of vital information.


Protecting the press is essential to the battle against crime and the protection of democracy. To this end, it must be a priority to apply the recently approved Law for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists in an effective and urgent manner; to strengthen the Office of the Special Prosecutor on Crimes Committed against Freedom of Expression (FEADLE in its Spanish acronym); and to complete the necessary steps to implement the constitutional reform that gives federal authorities jurisdiction to investigate and try crimes against the exercise of freedom of expression, which was passed on June 6th in the Permanent Commission of the National Congress.


Principle 9 of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression 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 Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (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.