Freedom of Expression

Press Release R81/11






Washington D.C., July 29, 2011 — 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 Yolanda Ordaz, who was found dead on Tuesday, July 26, in Boca del Río, Veracruz. The Office of the Special Rapporteur urges the authorities to conduct a prompt and diligent investigation to establish the motive of the crime and to identify and appropriately punish the perpetrators, and again exhorts the Mexican State to implement a comprehensive policy of prevention, protection and pursuit of justice in the face of the violence suffered by journalists and media outlets in the country.


According to the information received, Yolanda Ordaz was a reporter who covered crime and police issues for Notiver newspaper, in Veracruz. She had gone missing on Sunday, July 24, after telling her family that she was going out to cover a story. Her body was found beheaded behind the offices of Imagen del Golfo newspaper and near the radio station MVS.


This is the second murder of a Notiver reporter in the last month, and the fifth murder of a Mexican journalist in 2011 possibly related to the practice of the victim’s profession. On June 20, journalist Miguel Ángel López Velasco (known as Milo Vela)), Notiver's deputy executive editor, his wife and his son were killed in their home. In addition, in 2011 the following crimes have been reported: the disappearance and murder of Noel López Olguín, on March 8 in Veracruz; the killings of Luis Ruiz Carrillo and José Luis Cerda Meléndez, on March 25 in Monterrey; and the disappearance of Marco Antonio López Ortiz, whose whereabouts remain unknown, in Guerrero on June 7. Other attacks against media outlets have killed newspaper distributor Maribel Hernández, on January 31 in Ciudad Juárez, and engineer Rodolfo Ochoa Moreno, on February 9 in Coahuila.


In its 2007 Annual Report, the Office of the Special Rapporteur documented that on May 3 of that year, a human head was left in front of the offices of Notiver with a note that said "This is a gift for the journalists, more heads will fall, and Milo Vela knows it very well".


The Office of the Special Rapporteur again expresses its concern regarding these killings and urgently calls upon the authorities to strengthen the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Freedom of Expression, transfer of investigations into crimes committed against members of the media to the federal justice system when required, and the implement security measures recently created that protect the lives and safety of threatened journalists. Additionally, the Office of the Special Rapporteur insists that in order to combat impunity for the crimes committed as well as the repetition of this type of acts, it is indispensable for all the perpetrators of such crimes to be identified, tried, and punished, and for the victims’ families to receive due measures of reparations.


According to the information available, investigators are examining different theories regarding the motives of the crime. The Office of the Special Rapporteur urges the Mexican authorities to diligently and rigorously investigate the possibility that the murder was motivated by Yolanda Ordaz’s reporting. Clarifying such crimes and punishing those responsible are necessary steps toward deterring violence and its impact on rights such as the right to life and freedom of expression.


The ninth principle of the IACHR 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."