Freedom of Expression

Press Release R225/20

Office of the Special Rapporteur condemns the murder of journalist Julio Valdivia in Mexico and reiterates concern on the persistence of attacks against the life and integrity of communicators 

September 21, 2020

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 Mexican journalist Julio Valdivia Rodríguez in the state of Veracruz and reiterates its extreme concern about the persistent attacks against life and integrity that communicators suffer. The Office of the Special Rapporteur urges the Veracruz Prosecutor's Office and the Federal Specialized Prosecutor's Office for crimes against Freedom of Expression (FEADLE) of the Attorney General's Office to investigate in a coordinated, complete, effective, and impartial manner the material and intellectual authors of the crime and determine the link that it could have to journalistic activity.

Julio Valdivia, 44, covered news related to crimes and violence for El Mundo de Córdoba newspaper. According to available information, on September 9 at around 2.30 pm. his dead body was found with signs of torture and beheaded, next to some train tracks in a remote area of the municipality of Tezonapa, between the communities of Motzorongo and Paraíso. The day before, the communicator reportedly told a colleague that he would leave directly from his house to report on some news in Tezonapa, without further specification. 

The State Commission for the Attention and Protection of Journalists (CEAPP) said in a statement that the communicator Julio Valdivia Rodríguez had not previously reported any aggression or threat to his life or integrity, and that therefore he did not have special protection measures. 

Likewise, the Office of the Special Rapporteur learned that the Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists condemned the murder of the journalist Julio Valdivia Rodríguez, and called on the state authorities and the Prosecutor's Office of the State of Veracruz for the prompt clarification of the case.

So far in 2020, this Office has registered the murder of three other journalists in Mexico, which would be linked to their journalistic work. The most recent case was that of journalist Pablo Morrugares, murdered in the state of Guerrero on August 2, which prompted a statement by the Office of the Rapporteur urging the Mexican authorities to carry out a complete and impartial investigation of the events. Likewise, in the previous months, the Office of the Special Rapporteur documented the murders of journalist María Elena Ferral in the state of Veracruz and of journalist Jorge Miguel Armenta Ávalos in the state of Sonora. In addition, other murders of communicators have been reported, in which the link to their profession should not be ruled out a priori.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur has warned on several occasions about the worrisome situation of violence against journalists and communicators that Mexico is going through, which includes homicides, disappearances, and torture. As this Office pointed out in the Special Report on the Situation of Freedom of Expression in Mexico, although the security crisis is widespread and seriously affects the human rights of the entire population, acts of violence have very often been directed against those who are most indispensable to publicize the situation of conflict and insecurity, corruption, and criminality: journalists.

The murder of journalists constitutes the most extreme form of censorship, it seeks to undermine public debate and civic participation, and constitutes a general attack on the essence of democratic life in Mexico at the local, state, and national levels.

In accordance with principle 9 of the IACHR Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression, "[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 calls on the Mexican State to fully, effectively, and impartially investigate this crime, clarify its motives, and judicially determine the connection it may have with journalism and freedom of expression.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression was created by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) with the aim of encouraging the defense of the right to freedom of thought and expression in the hemisphere, given its fundamental role in consolidating and developing the democratic system.