Freedom of Expression

Press Release 44/01


The Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, Dr. Santiago A. Canton, condemns the murder of Costa Rican journalist Parmenio Medina on July 8, 2001. Medina, age 62, ran the popular radio program La Patada on Radio Monumental of San José, in which he denounced acts of corruption and offered comedic critiques. He was shot three times and killed as he was returning home. He had received death threats and last May was attacked by unknown persons.  

The Special Rapporteur condemns this crime and urges Costa Rican authorities to clarify the events that transpired and punish the perpetrators. Murdering journalists is the most brutal form of attack on freedom of expression. The American Convention on Human Rights, to which Costa Rica is a party, indicates that States have the duty to prevent, investigate, and punish any violation of the rights enshrined in the Convention. In the case of journalists, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has maintained that failure to conduct a full investigation into the murder of a journalist and punish the perpetrators and masterminds is particularly serious because of its impact on society. Impunity for these crimes not only frightens other journalists, but all citizens, making them scared to report assaults, abuses, and all types of illicit acts.  

The Special Rapporteur acknowledges the willingness of the Costa Rican State to fully investigate this murder. He also urges authorities to continue to make every effort to prevent this crime from going unpunished.  

Finally, the Special Rapporteur recalls the provisions of principle 9 of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression, “[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 .”   

Santiago A. Canton
Special Rapporteur for Freedom
of Expression in the Americas
July 10, 2001
Washington, D.C.