GENEVA / WASHINGTON, D.C. (18 May 2017) – Two experts on freedom of expression of the United Nations and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemned the killing of Mexican journalist and writer Javier Valdez Cárdenas, cofounder and writer of the Sinaloan weekly Ríodoce. Valdez had a long and award-winning journalistic career and carried out courageous work covering drug trafficking and organized crime in his country.
“The killing of Javier Valdez is a serious attack on journalism and freedom of expression in Mexico,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, and the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Edison Lanza.
“Violence aims to silence the brave work of journalists who, like Javier Valdez, report and inform Mexican society on matters of public interest despite threats and constant risk,” they explained.
According to the information available, the journalist was killed on 15 May in the city of Culiacán, Sinaloa state, by unknown individuals who shot him 12 times when he had just left Ríodoce’s office. His team at Ríodoce affirmed they had “no doubt” that “the origin of the crime against Javier Valdez was his journalistic work related to drug trafficking issues.”
The experts took note of the announcements made on 17 May by the Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto in a meeting held with state governors and the Attorney General, among others, where an action plan was announced aimed at strengthening the work of institutions that investigate crimes against journalists as well as protection mechanisms.
Both rapporteurs welcomed the commitment expressed by the President, the Attorney-General and the governors to tackle impunity and guarantee conditions to ensure freedom of expression and call for a prompt implementation of the measures announced.
Accordingly, the experts urged the Mexican government, especially its law enforcement authorities, to investigate Javier Valdez’s murder comprehensively and to identify, prosecute and punish those responsible. Holistic and effective protection measures should be also put in place for Javier Valdez’s family and Ríodoce colleagues, if they consent to these.
“The Attorney General’s Office for Crimes Against Freedom of Expression (FEADLE), especially now under new leadership, should deliver results in this and other investigations to show that the Mexican State is tackling impunity for these crimes as a matter of priority,” insisted the special rapporteurs.
“Mexican journalism is mourning again for the loss of one of the country’s most respected and recognized journalists,” said Mr. Lanza. “Javier Valdez is the most recent name on a long list of journalists murdered for their work in Mexico.” During 2017, seven journalists have been killed in the country.
“The statement made by President Peña Nieto is a testimony to the seriousness of the situation and how coordinated action at all levels of government is required to bring those responsible for these crimes to justice and to end this epidemic of violence against journalists and the public’s right to know,” the experts said.
The Special Rapporteurs reiterated last April their request to the Mexican State to make a joint official visit to the country and are awaiting a response from the Mexican authorities.
The Special Rapporteurs expressed their deep regret and condolences to the family and fellow journalists of Javier Valdez.
Mr. David Kaye (USA) was appointed as Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression in August 2014 by the United Nations Human Rights Council.
The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.
Mr. Edison Lanza (Uruguay) was appointed as Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression in July 2014 by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression was created by the IACHR to encourage the defence 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.