Miami (July 13, 2021).- The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) calls on the Mexican government to solve the murder of journalist Víctor Manuel Oropeza Contreras and said the crime continues to go unpunished after 30 years of impunity. The IAPA also urged the government of Mexico to end the lack of justice surrounding other numerous cases of murders against journalists in the country.
Víctor Manuel Oropeza, a doctor who practiced journalism for 28 years, was assassinated on July 3, 1991. Since 1984, Oropeza published in the Diario de Juárez, in Ciudad Juárez, his column "A mi Manera" (My Way) where he criticized and condemned the "close relationship" between the police forces and drug traffickers. He was 60 years old when a group of unknown men entered his office and stabbed him. After the murder, the family of his widow, Patricia Martínez Téllez, was threatened.
The president of the IAPA Sub-Commission against Impunity, Juan Francisco Ealy Lanz-Duret, said, "It is regrettable that 30 years after the murder, there are not results in the case. The failure to solve the case of the murdered journalist, the violence and the impunity, restrict the freedom of expression and of the press, as expressed in our Declaration of Chapultepec."
Ealy Lanz-Duret of El Universal, Mexico City, said that "the IAPA is committed to continuing to demand that the crime of Víctor Manuel Oropeza does not go unpunished" and he added, "we will do everything possible so that it does not fall into oblivion and that the State compensate the family in a dignified way."
Following an investigation into the crime, the IAPA presented the case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in March 1997. The organization argued that deficiencies in the murder investigation violated norms of the American Convention on Human Rights regarding the rights to life, personal integrity, and equality before the law, freedom of expression, judicial guarantees and judicial protection. The IACHR agreed to review the case and assigned it number 11.740.
Ever since the IACHR looked into the case, the Oropeza murder investigation has undergone several discussion processes with authorities from different Mexican governments. However, the case stalled in 2007. At the end of 2019, talks with representatives of the State resumed.
Currently, the IAPA, together with the family, is analyzing a friendly settlement agreement with the State that includes, among other measures, a diligent investigation of the murder, the identification and punishment of those responsible, the acknowledgment of the State's responsibility in the case, and compensation for the victim's family.
IAPA is a non-profit organization dedicated to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press and of expression in the Americas. It is made up of more than 1,300 publications from the western hemisphere; and is based in Miami, Florida, United States.