Freedom of Expression

Press Release R 1/15


R 1/15


Washington D.C., January 6, 2015. – The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its concern over the disappearance of journalist José Moisés Sánchez Cerezo, which reportedly took place on the evening of January 2 in Medellin de Bravo, in the State of Veracruz. According to the information available, on January 5, the authorities reportedly arrested three local policemen as suspect in the disappearance of the journalist.  Likewise, the State informed the Office of the Special Rapporteur that the federal authorities have taken steps regarding this issue.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur takes note of these information and calls on the Mexican State to adopt all the necessary measures to find the journalist alive. In its investigations, the State should not dismiss the hypothesis that the disappearance could be related to the exercise of the journalist’s work. 

According to the information received, Sánchez is founder and reporter for the local weekly La Union, a publication distributed for free, through which the journalist denounced corruption of local authorities and the security situation of the area. Due to lack of funds to publish the weekly, he used social media to report about  local issues, especially those related to the security of the community. 

The journalist is reportedly also a taxi driver and manages  an informal business to financially support the weekly. According to his family, Sánchez was allegedly threatened days before an armed group of people traveling in three vehicles burst into his house to take him. In the kidnapping, the work material of the journalist, his computer and camera were taken.

Violence against journalists in Mexico – especially in the State of Veracruz – has been of particular concern to this Office. The Special Rapporteur urges the authorities to thoroughly investigate the hypothesis that this crime could have been associated with the exercise of the victim’s right to freedom of expression or his human rights defense work. Similarly, the Office of the Special Rapporteur considers it essential to urgently assess whether the mechanisms of change in jurisdiction should be activated so that this case could be investigated and prosecuted immediately by federal authorities. This Office also considers it fundamental to consolidate the Mechanism to Protect Human Rights Defenders and Journalists [Mecanismo de Protección para Personas Defensoras de Derechos Humanos y Periodistas], and to strengthen the interagency coordination mechanisms between federal authorities and the various levels of government to ensure the proper adoption and implementation of protection measures.

Principle 9 of the IACHR Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression states: "[t]he 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.