Freedom of Expression

Press release R186/22

The SRFOE condemns the murder of journalist Gerardo Delgado Olmedo in Ecuador and urges authorities to redouble efforts to curb violence against journalists

August 24, 2022

Washington, D.C. - The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression (SRFOE) of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the murder of journalist Gerardo Delgado Olmedo in the city of Montecristi, Manabí province, and urges the State to investigate the facts fully, effectively and impartially, taking into consideration the journalistic work as a possible motive for the crime, and to punish those responsible.

According to available information, Gerardo Delgado Olmedo was the victim of nine gunshots on August 10, 2022 by two unknown individuals while he was parked in his car at the access to La Paola, in the city of Montecristi. His daughter was also in the vehicle, who witnessed the murder and was unharmed. According to public information, the reporter was on his way to cover a story related to an alleged suicide. The authorities reported that on August 10, two people were arrested for allegedly committing the crime, who after being detained were placed before a judge, who ordered them both to be remanded in custody for their alleged participation in the crime. Likewise, the State has informed that the Public Prosecutor's Office continues to carry out several investigations and expert reports with the support of the National Police in order to clarify the facts and identify the perpetrators. According to information from a public source, the alleged perpetrators received US$2,000 to commit the murder.

Gerardo Delgado Olmedo had a 20-year career in journalism and was the owner manager of the media and channel Ola Manta TV. In addition, he had announced his pre-candidacy for councilman of Manta for the political movements Revolución Ciudadana and Sí Podemos.  

The Rapporteur’s Office recalls that the murder of journalists is the most extreme form of censorship and cannot be tolerated in a democratic society. It is the duty of the State to ensure that crimes against freedom of expression are subject to independent, prompt and effective investigations and judicial proceedings. Likewise, during the investigations, the evaluation of the possible link between the crime and the practice of journalism should not be ruled out.

The Special Rapporteur’s Office notes with concern that these events occur only two weeks after the murder of reporter Mike Cabrera, in the city of Portoviejo, Manabí province, which was the subject of a statement issued by this Office. In this context, the Rapporteur’s Office reiterates its call to the State to provide a forceful institutional response against violence against journalists, publicly recognizing the importance of their work for the strengthening of the rule of law and democracy.

Likewise, the Rapporteur’s Office again reminds the State of the need to take up the observations and recommendations made in its 2019 Special Report on the Situation of Freedom of Expression in Ecuador with respect to the prevention and protection of journalists. In this regard, the Special Rapporteur’s Office has recommended to the State, among other points, the establishment of a policy for the protection of journalists in line with international human rights standards, and that, as part of this policy, risk maps be drawn up and detailed data on incidents of violence be compiled. In the opinion of the Office of the Special Rapporteur, Ecuador is going through a transcendental moment in the public debate on present and future guarantees for freedom of expression and freedom of the press, and in this context this Office encourages the State to consider the safety of journalists as a central and urgent issue in the discussion.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression is an office created by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to stimulate the hemispheric defense of the right to freedom of thought and expression, considering its fundamental role in the consolidation and development of the democratic system.