Freedom of Expression

Press release R102/22

SRFOE condemns the persistence of murders of journalists in Mexico

May 11, 2022

Washington, D.C. The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression (RELE) of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the persistence of murders of journalists in Mexico and urges the State to investigate and punish the facts with due diligence, impartiality, and an intersectional approach, taking into consideration the journalistic work as a possible motive for the crime.  

According to official information provided by the attorney general's offices of the states of Sinaloa and Veracruz, between May 5 and 9, the murders of journalist Luis Enrique Ramírez and journalists Yesenia Mollinedo and Sheila Johana García were reported. Based on the information received, murders against journalists in Mexico amount to at least eleven so far in 2022, of which three of the victims have been women and eight men.

In relation to the murder of journalist Luis Enrique Ramírez, according to information confirmed by the Sinaloa State Prosecutor's Office (FGE), the journalist's body was found lifeless and with signs of blows on the morning of May 5 in the south of the city of Culiacán, Sinaloa state. In addition, the FGE's expert investigations and the autopsy carried out by the Forensic Medical Service have determined that the journalist suffered cranioencephalic traumatism as a result of blunt force trauma. In addition, the FGE has informed that as the investigations progress, the route to be followed will be determined, including the possibility of the investigation being transferred to the Special Prosecutor's Office for Crimes against Freedom of Expression (FEADLE).

Luis Enrique Ramírez was a columnist for the newspaper El Debate and directed the news portal Fuentes Fidedignas, where he covered issues related to local politics. He had previously worked for the national media El Financiero, El Nacional and La Jornada. In addition, according to available information, in 2011 the journalist had temporarily exiled himself to Mexico City for fear of his personal safety due to the growing situation of violence against journalists in the Culiacán area. In his last column -published on May 3, in the framework of the World Press Freedom Day- the journalist denounced that in 2018 he had been approached and verbally assaulted in a violent manner when he was with the then municipal president of Culiacán, elected in the weeks prior to the events. In this regard, the Sinaloa State Prosecutor's Office indicated that there were no formal complaints about threats and/or intimidation against the journalist, at least before the Public Prosecutor's Office of common jurisdiction.

Regarding the murders of the journalists of El Veraz, Yesenia Mollinedo and Sheila Johana García, according to public information, on May 9 unknown individuals shot at them on multiple occasions in the parking lot of a self-service store in the municipality of Cosoleacaque, Veracruz state. In this regard, the Veracruz State Attorney General's Office reported the opening of an investigation into the case, and emphasized that "there will be no impunity" and that "all lines of investigation will be exhausted, including her journalistic activity".

In this context, on March 24, the Rapporteur’s Office expressed its concern regarding the normalization and worsening of violence against journalists in Mexico, and urged state authorities to assess the causes and effects of this phenomenon, to take intersectional and complementary measures to those already underway in the areas of violence prevention, protection of journalists and the fight against impunity for crimes against the press.

In addition, this Office reiterates that under the American Convention on Human Rights, States are called upon to guarantee the free exercise of journalistic work and that, as it has previously stated, the obligation of prevention is particularly important in countries where there is a risk of such acts occurring and in specific situations in which the authorities are aware of the real and immediate risk of such crimes being committed.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur calls on the State to carry out a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation in accordance with its Standardized Protocol for the Investigation of Crimes Committed against Freedom of Expression, as well as to provide strong and appropriate institutional responses to the phenomenon of violence faced by the press in the country. Finally, SRFOE emphasizes the importance of the authorities making use of their leadership positions to counteract and confront violence against the press, constantly, clearly, publicly and firmly recognizing the legitimacy and value of journalistic work for democracy, even when the information disseminated may be critical of government interests.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression (SRFOE) is an office created by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to encourage the hemispheric defense of the right to freedom of thought and expression, considering its fundamental role in the consolidation and development of the democratic system.