Freedom of Expression

Press Release R122/11






Washington, D.C., November 18, 2011. -  The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the disappearance of two employees of the daily El Financiero, a Zacatecas newspaper, and the attacks against the daily newspapers El Siglo de Torreón, in Coahuila, and El Buen Tono, in Veracruz.


According to the information received, Osvaldo García Íñiguez, a regional circulation manager for the daily business newspaper El Financiero, and the newspaper driver, José de Jesús Ortiz Parra, disappeared on the afternoon of Monday, November 14, while they were traveling between Zacatecas and Jalisco in a car with the newspaper’s logo.  The Office of the Special Rapporteur learned that the newspaper’s management stated that in their last communication with the newspaper, García and Ortiz had reported that they were being followed by two police cars.  When the employees failed to arrive at their destination, the newspaper reported the men to the authorities as missing.  Since noon of November 15, several police groups in Zacatecas have been carrying out an intensive joint search for the media employees and have taken into custody several suspects who may have information about the men’s disappearance.


In regards to the attack on the newspaper El Siglo de Torreón, the Office of the Special Rapporteur was informed that in the early hours of November 15 at least three individuals allegedly set on fire a vehicle in front of the newspaper building and shot more than twenty times.  No one was hurt during the attack.  In a separate event, in the early hours of November 6 at least ten masked men went into the building of El Buen Tono in Veracruz and destroyed computers, doused the facilities with gasoline and set the place on fire.  Some twenty newspaper employees that were in the building at the time of the attack managed to escape unharmed.


The Special Rapporteur aknowledges the efforts made up to now by the State to find Osvaldo García Íñiguez and José de Jesús Ortiz Parra and urges the State to continue its actions for bringing both men to safety, to thoroughly investigate Garcia and Parra’s last communications and to not rule out any hypothesis.  Additionally, the Special Rapporteur deems it urgent to identify and bring to trial those responsible for the attacks on El Siglo de Torreón and El Buen Tono newspapers in order to avoid impunity and the repetition of such events.


As was reported by the "2010 Special Report on Freedom of Expression in Mexico", the Office of the Special Rapporteur once again urges the Mexican State to promote measures that protect journalists, as well as mechanisms to confront the problems detected in the administration of justice with regard to these crimes. In particular, the Office of the Special Rapporteur has urged the State to strengthen the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Freedom of Expression, transfer investigations of crimes committed against media workers to the federal justice system when necessary, and implement security measures to safeguard the lives and wellbeing of threatened journalists. In addition, the Office of the Special Rapporteur insists that to combat impunity and the repetition of these 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 reparations.


Principle 9 of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression of the IACHR 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."