The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
(IACHR) condemns the murder of press photographer Edgar Daniel Esqueda Castro in Mexico and urges the State to investigate the crime with due diligence, and clarify its possible relation to the journalistic activity.
According to public information, the journalist would have been abducted from his residence in the state of San Luis de Potosi on October 5 and had been missing until October 6, when his corpse was found tied by the hands close to railroad tracks in the same location.
According to available information, Esqueda Castro, who collaborated with VoxPopuli de San Luis Potosíand Metropoli de San Luis, would have been threatened by a ministerial agent and would have submitted a complaint to the ombudsman of said entity about that incident. Also, there are allegations that a group of armed men dressed in police uniforms were responsible for his abduction. The State Ministerial Police (PME) denied being involved in the crime through a statement issued by the Attorney General of San Luis Potosí (PGJSLP) on October 5.
According to information provided by the State, the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Freedom of Expression (Feadle) started an investigation on the murder of the journalist Daniel Esqueda, focused on developing an investigation line related to freedom of expression.
Due to the gravity of the state of violence against journalists in Mexico, this Office calls on the Mexican State to redouble its efforts to investigate in a complete, effective, and impartial manner this and the remaining crimes committed in recent years, to clarify its motives, and, in particular, judicially determine the relationship they could have with journalistic activity and freedom of expression. Authorities should not rule out the practice of journalism as a motive for murder and/or aggression before the investigation is completed, it should also provide appropriate resources and specialized personnel to the institutions responsible for investigating such cases.
Both the Commission and the Inter-American Court have addressed the chilling effect that crimes against journalists have on other media professionals, as well as on citizens who intend to report abuses of power or unlawful acts of any kind. This chilling effect can only be prevented, according to the Commission, “by swift action on the part of the State to punish all perpetrators, as is its duty under international and domestic law.”
The Office of the Special Rapporteur reminds the State that, regarding the impunity of crimes related to freedom of expression, it is essential to exhaust the line of investigation related to the exercise of the profession in cases of crimes against journalists, as well as to provide adequate resources and specialized personnel to the institutions responsible for investigating such matters.
Principle 9 of the IACHR’s Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression states: “[t]he 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 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.