Freedom of Expression

Press Release R113/13








Mexico City, October 24, 2011. The special rapporteurs for freedom of expression of the United Nations and of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States today thanked the Mexican State for its positive disposition in inviting them to visit the country, during the presentation of reports published by both rapporteurships based on their joint official visit to Mexico from August 9-24, 2010. The rapporteurs, however, called on the State to implement the recommendations contained in their reports and stressed the need for a decisive response by the State to protect journalists and media organizations from violence.


The IACHR Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, Catalina Botero, and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, Frank La Rue, recognized the progress that has been made in protecting freedom of expression in Mexico. They noted the role of the Federal Institute for Access to Information and Protection of Data (IFAI) in protecting the right of access to information; the federal government’s creation of a special prosecutor's office to investigate crimes against freedom of expression; and the decriminalization of crimes against honor at the federal level and in the majority of the country's federated entities.


However, La Rue and Botero emphasized that enormous challenges persist, particularly with regard to the violence faced by members of the media, which has an intolerable chilling effect in some areas of the country. The rapporteurs reaffirmed that over the last decade, Mexico has been the most dangerous country for journalists in the Americas, with 70 media workers murdered from 2000 to 2010 and 13 between January and October of 2011, in cases in which a link to the victim's professional activity has not been ruled out. 


The rapporteurs believe that an effective response by the Mexican State to protect journalists and media outlets must recognize that violence against the media is a critical problem and adopt a comprehensive policy of prevention, protection, and criminal prosecution. Among other measures, it is necessary to quickly and effectively implement a specialized security mechanism to protect the lives and physical integrity of journalists at risk. It is also necessary to ensure that prompt and diligent investigations are conducted every time a media worker is murdered, disappeared, attacked, or subject to death threats, through the strengthening of the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Freedom of Expression (FEADLE) as well as the transfer to the federal jurisdiction of investigations into crimes against the media in cases that so warrant. Mexico should also incorporate an explicit policy on freedom of expression into its public security strategy which includes the protection of at-risk jounalists.


The rapporteurs recognized the Mexican State’s openness and positive response to the concerns they expressed during their official visit. However, they voiced particular concern over the lack of progress in the effective implementation of the "Coordination Agreement for the Implementation of Preventive and Protective Actions for Journalists," as well as the failure to punish those responsible for acts of violence against journalists, even though FEADLE has been in operation for more than six years.


According to Catalina Botero, "Safeguarding freedom of expression is not only compatible with fighting organized crime, but is an essential part of that fight, to the extent that it brings to light criminal activities and promotes political accountability and institutional integrity."


For his part, Frank La Rue stated, "Any effective action by the State to protect journalists and media outlets begins with the diligent investigation of the crimes against them and the identification, prosecution, and punishment of those responsible, as well as the reparation of the victims."


Finally, the rapporteurs observed that diversity and pluralism in the democratic debate are limited by the high concentration in the ownership and control of media outlets that have been allocated radio and television frequencies, and by the absence of a clear legal framework governing broadcasting that establishes clear and equitable rules for all actors, including community radio stations. 


During their joint official visit to Mexico, the UN and IACHR rapporteurs met with officials from the executive, legislative, and judicial branches at the federal and state level, as well as with civil society organizations, journalists, and other key players, both in the Federal District and in the states of Chihuahua, Guerrero, and Sinaloa. The rapporteurs thanked the Mexican State for its openness in having invited them to visit the country and underscored its cooperation and diligence before, during, and after the visit.


In addition to the two rapporteurs, who participated via videoconference, today's presentation included the participation of representatives of the federal government, the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH), the press, and civil society.



The report of the IACHR Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression is available at:


The report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression is available (in Spanish) at: