ASUNCION, Paraguay (March 12, 2009)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) here for its Midyear Meeting that opens tomorrow announced it will submit the case involving the disappearance of Mexican journalist Alfredo Jiménez Mota to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). Jimenez Mota's disappearance led the organization to intensify its battle against violence and impunity in Mexico.
In a special ceremony with the presence of IACHR Executive Secretary Santiago Cantón and the IACHR Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression Catalina Botero, IAPA officers will hand over the results of an investigation into the case and documentation demonstrating that the Mexican government failed to guarantee the victim’s right to life, legal protection and freedom of expression, precepts enshrined in the American Convention on Human Rights.
The IAPA has submitted a total of 24 cases to the IACHR, including four concerning Mexicans: Jiménez Mota, Benjamín Flores, Héctor Félix Miranda and Víctor Manuel Oropeza. In a number of cases the IACHR, the IAPA and the governments concerned have coordinated efforts to solve the cases by initiating new inquiries, determining responsibilities for official lack of action, providing reparations to victims’ families, and developing judicial measures to combat impunity.
Jiménez Mota was 25 at the time of his disappearance on April 2, 2005 while he was covering the organized crime and public safety beats for El Imparcial in Hermosillo. Sonora. The northern state of Sonora is regarded as a high risk place for journalists to work in Mexico.
On April 2, 2005 Jiménez Mota left El Imparcial at 8:45 p.m. He arrived home and called his colleague Shaila Rosagel to arrange a meeting later that Saturday evening with other friends after he finished interviewing one of his contacts, the deputy director general of the Sonora State Prison System, Andrés Montoya García. According to a statement by Montoya García to the State Attorney General’s Office they talked about the release of an alleged drug trafficker nicknamed “El Estudiante” (The Student), who Jiménez Mota had been reporting on. He said that he dropped the reporter off at a supermarket and that Jimenéz Mota had mentioned that he was going to see another contact. Jiménez Mota’s cell phone records show that the last call he received that night was at 11:04 p.m. from then-deputy chief of the Mexican Attorney General’s Office in Sonora, Raúl Fernando Rojas Galván, one of the reporter’s primary news sources who at first denied having seen or had contact with him, but later retracted and acknowledged that Jiménez Mota had called him to ask for information. That night Jiménez Mota did not show up at the meeting with his friends as arranged.
IAPA President Enrique Santos Calderón, editor of the Bogotá, Colombia, newspaper El Tiempo, declared, “For our organization this is the perfect example of what we have been denouncing in Mexico for several years now: that when a journalist investigates the illicit drug trade he or she is putting herself or himself at risk of disappearance, murder or other acts of violence.”
IAPA Impunity Committee Chairman Juan Francisco Ealy Ortiz, of the Mexico City, Mexico, newspaper El Imparcial, added, “The lack of security for journalists who are subject to revenge is one of the main problems in Mexico and often ends in acts of violence being committed against those whose role is to keep the people informed.”
In its plea to the IACHR the IAPA holds that in this case “the breach of fundamental guarantees goes beyond the journalist himself; it extends to his family, in their right to the truth, to the journalists of Sonora, whose work is obstructed by impunity and the government’s failure to provide security to carry out their work independently and safely, and to the people of the state of Sonora who have been deprived of their right to receive the information that enables them to exercise their democratic right to make decisions individually and collectively because of the level of self-censorship.”
In addition to the Mexican cases other investigations before the IACHR involve the cases of Juan Carlos Encinas and Carlos Quispe Quispe, in Bolivia; Manoel Leal de Oliveira, Aristeu Guida da Silva, Zaqueu de Oliveira, Ivan Rocha, Mário Coelho Filho, Ronaldo Santana de Araújo, Edgar Lopes de Faria, Reinaldo Coutinho da Silva and Luiz Inácio Monteiro, in Brazil; Nelson Carvajal, Gerardo Bedoya, Carlos Lajud Catalán, Guillermo Cano, Jairo Elías Márquez and Hernando Rangel Moreno, in Colombia; Irma Flaquer and Jorge Carpio Nicolle, in Guatemala, and Santiago Leguizamón, in Paraguay.
The IAPA’s Impunity Committee, responsible for the investigative work, follow-up and submission of results to the IACHR, is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.