Freedom of Expression

Press Release R62-09


PREN R62/09





Washington, D.C, September 4, 2009 - The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) deplores the murder of Christian Poveda, a French-Spaniard documentalist, which occurred on September 2 in El Salvador. The Office of the Special Rapporteur urges Salvadorian authorities to investigate this crime promptly and effectively and to duly prosecute those responsible.


According to the information received, on September 2, 2009, local authorities found Poveda, who had been shot several times in the face. The reporter’s body was lying near his vehicle, in a suburban area, north of San Salvador. Poveda, who was living in El Salvador, was finishing a documental on criminal gangs ("maras") that was supposed to be released at the end of September. Months before the crime, Poveda, a reporter for several international media outlets, allegedly received dead threats related to his documental. At least 10 reporters have in the region this year for reasons that could be related to their work as journalists. 


The Office of the Special Rapporteur considers that Poveda’s murder could have a chilling effect that may affect the right to freedom of expression. The Office of the Special Rapporteur also recognizes the quick reaction of the Salvadorian President, who condemned the crime. Likewise, the Office of the Special Rapporteur urges authorities to fully investigate the facts so that those responsible for the murder of Poveda can be duly prosecuted and punished. It also calls on the State to adopt all urgent measures needed to guarantee the life and the integrity of those journalists who are at risk.


The Office of the Special Rapporteur underlines that Principle 9 of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression of the IACHR states that the murder, kidnapping, intimidation of and/or threats against social communicators, as well as the material destruction of communications media, violates the fundamental rights of individuals and strongly restricts 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.


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