Freedom of Expression

Press release R106/22

The Office of the Special Rapporteur condemns the murder of journalist Francisca Sandoval during a protest and calls on the State of Chile to investigate the facts

May 17, 2022

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 journalist Francisca Sandoval after she was attacked while covering a protest in Barrio Meiggs, Santiago, Chile, and urges the State of Chile to investigate the facts fully, effectively and impartially and to punish those responsible.

According to available information, on May 1 journalist Francisca Sandoval, of the local community media Señal 3 La Victoria, was shot in the face by a private individual while covering a workers' day protest. The journalist was hospitalized at the Asistencia Pública Emergency Hospital and died on May 12 as a result of the attack. During the protest, Radio 7 reporter Fabiola Moreno and Prensa Piensa community media reporter Roberto Caro were also shot and wounded.

According to the Ministry of the Interior, the alleged perpetrator of the homicide was arrested on May 2 and charged by the North Central Prosecutor's Office with frustrated homicide, illegal possession of a firearm and unjustified shooting. According to the information available, the accused is currently in preventive custody in the Santiago Uno prison. Likewise, the Undersecretary of the Interior informed that an internal investigation was ordered to Carabineros de Chile by the Ministry of the Interior. According to public information, the President of the Republic visited the journalist's family in the hospital and publicly expressed his rejection of violence. Additionally, according to the information received, the Government spokeswoman stated that "there will be no impunity" in this case, and highlighted the commitment of the authorities to "guarantee greater security conditions for press workers". In this context, she also announced that they would be working together with a group of legislators to "move towards legislation that protects press workers according to international standards".


In its last Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Chile, the IACHR stated that, within the framework of the obligation to guarantee the right to protest, the Chilean State has the duty to protect demonstrators against physical violence by third parties and non-State actors, adopting special measures to combat all forms of violence against girls, adolescents and women in the context of social protests. The State is called upon to guarantee that all legitimate activities exercised by protesters and journalists are duly protected by the institutions.


Likewise, as the Inter-American Court has held, violence against journalists who cover situations of social conflict or social protests prevents them from playing their vital role of vigilance on issues of high public interest, generates a negative impact on other journalists who must cover events of this nature, and affects the right of citizens to know the information that journalists obtain. At the same time, the Office of the Special Rapporteur has stated that, when practicing journalism in situations of high conflict or violence and in contexts that reinforce gender subordination, the risk faced by women journalists must be qualified as greater.


The murder of journalists is the most extreme form of censorship and it is the duty of States to prevent and investigate these acts, punish the perpetrators and ensure adequate reparation for the victims. The IACHR and its Rapporteurship have maintained that investigations into violations of life and physical integrity occurring in the context of social protests are crucial, since the contrary could generate "a frightening effect that is especially serious because of the impact it has on the exercise of the rights to assembly, freedom of expression, and free association.


This Office urges the State of Chile to continue investigating the case diligently and effectively, and to punish the material and intellectual authors of the acts of violence that occurred on May 1, as well as to take all actions within its power to guarantee free coverage of demonstrations by journalists.