GENEVA/WASHINGTON (19 November 2019) – The Special Rapporteurs on freedom of expression from the United Nations and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights have expressed concern over the slow progress in the investigation into the murder of Mexican journalist Javier Arturo Valdez Cárdenas 2-1/2 years ago.
According to information received, Javier Valdez, founder and editor of the Sinaloa weekly Ríodoce and author of numerous investigative pieces on drug trafficking, organised crime and corruption networks, was murdered on May 15, 2017 by unknown individuals who shot him as he left his workplace in Sinaloa, Mexico.
“It is unacceptable that 30 months after the cruel murder of Javier Valdez no one has yet been convicted of the crime,” said David Kaye, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, and Edison Lanza, the IAHCR’s Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression.
“The delay in the investigation, prosecution, and punishment of all those responsible could lead to an additional violation of the rights to access to justice and a fair trial.”
Javier Valdez’s murder prompted then President Enrique Peña Nieto to announce that specific measures would be taken to strengthen the Special Prosecutor’s Office for Crimes against Freedom of Expression (FEADLE) and the Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders and Journalists in order to prevent attacks and protect the press in Mexico.
The experts recognize the efforts made by FEADLE in coordination with the Sinaloa Attorney General’s Office (FGS) to move the investigation forward and establish the facts surrounding the crime against the journalist. The judiciary must act with due diligence to bring the proceedings to a satisfactory conclusion. The experts therefore call upon the judiciary to accelerate the process and define the date for the start of the oral hearings.
The Special Rapporteurs remind the Mexican authorities that the State must guarantee an independent, prompt, effective and impartial investigation that will make it possible to try both the perpetrators of these acts of violence and their masterminds before impartial and independent courts. Only then will justice be delivered, its repetition be deterred, and the chilling effect of violence on the media be prevented.
The experts say the delay in the proceedings directly contributes to the ongoing impunity for crimes against journalists in Mexico. They urge the Mexican Government to replace this pattern of impunity with one that guarantees effective investigation, prosecution and monitoring in accordance with its international obligations.
“It is imperative that government authorities intensify the use of FEADLE’s legal power to investigate and prosecute crimes against journalists and take far-reaching measures to put an end to impunity in the country,” they said.
The experts urged Mexican authorities to adhere to the procedural deadlines set out in the National Code of Criminal Procedure with a view to guaranteeing the right to access to justice and preventing the suffering of families as a result of delays in such proceedings.
Additionally, the experts said they were deeply concerned by reports about threats against the journalist’s wife, Griselda Triana, and his co-workers from the weekly Ríodoce. The Special Rapporteurs reiterate to the Mexican authorities their obligation to take comprehensive and effective measures to protect the journalist’s relatives and colleagues.
* The experts: Mr. David Kaye, as UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, is part of what is known as the Special Proceduresof 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 is the IACHR Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression. The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expressionwas 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.