Freedom of Expression

Press Release R77/12






Washington, D.C, July 6, 2012 - The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the murder of photographer Byron Baldeon, which took place on July 1st in El Triunfo, a town located near Guayaquil, in Ecuador.


According to the information received, two armed men on a motorcycle shot the photographer several times on the afternoon of July 1st as he arrived home. In May, while exercising his profession, Baldeon had taken photographs of the scene of a robbery. The criminal investigation revealed that several policemen were involved in the robbery. Later, Baldeon was subpoenaed as a witness to the crime. The photographer was as a freelance collaborator of the newspaper Extra, where the pictures were published.


The Office of the Special Rapporteur urges the authorities to act in a timely manner to identify the masterminds and the causes of this crime, to prosecute and sanction the responsible parties, and to demand that they provide adequate reparations to the victims next of kin. Violence against journalists and other communicators represents an unacceptable attack not only on the victims but on society as a whole, as it has a chilling effect on the free flow of information and ideas.


Principle 9 of the 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."


The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression was created by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to encourage the defense of the right to freedom of thought and expression in the hemisphere, given the fundamental role this right plays in consolidating and developing the democratic system.