Cartel-Focused Journalist Disappeared

MexicoJournalists at Risk


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Alfredo Jiménez Mota’s Disappearance Illustrates the Dangers Faced by Journalists in Mexico

An investigative journalist in the truest sense, Alfredo Jiménez Mota spent his too-short career uncovering information on drug trafficking operations, such as Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán’s Sinaloa cartel, and their potential connections with public officials in the city of Hermosillo in the Mexican state of Sonora, a hotbed for such activity along the U.S. border.

On the night of April 2, 2005, 25-year-old Alfredo was working on a new article for his newspaper, El Imparcial, and called a colleague to confirm that he would join him after meeting a source, who “was very nervous.” Alfredo never showed up. To this day, his whereabouts are unknown.

After a merry-go-round of prosecutors—including one switch that was transparently designed to curb investigations into state agents as co-perpetrators—nobody has been held responsible for Alfredo’s disappearance in 15 years. It has been established, however, that his disappearance was directly related to his work as a journalist.

Why Is This a Key Case?

Mexico ranks first among Latin countries in terms of journalist homicides related to cartel activity. The cartels wield incredible power and are well known for their ruthlessness. Alfredo’s disappearance is just one example of a disturbing trend throughout Mexico, Latin America, and other parts of the world that has seen investigative journalists gunned down and disappeared for their work, often with impunity for the perpetrators—which drives other journalists’ fear of engaging in similar work. In the absence of a functioning free press whose members feel confident in their safety, democracy itself is threatened.

How is RFK Human Rights Supporting Alfredo’s Case?

Along with the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA), RFK Human Rights is litigating the case of Alfredo before the IACHR, alleging that the Mexican state is guilty of multiple human rights violations, including to Alfredo’s right to life and freedom of thought and expression.

What is the Status of the Case?

The case is currently in the merits stage.

Name of the case (as it appears in the respective legal mechanism)

Alfredo Jimenez Mota and family v. Mexico

Month/Year of filing

March 2009 (RFKHR joined as co-counsel in 2018)

Legal mechanism in which the case is being litigated

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

Rights and legal instruments alleged violated (OR found to have been violated)

Articles 1.1 (obligation to respect rights), 3 (right to juridical personality), 4 (right to life), 5 (right to humane treatment), 7 (right to personal liberty), 8 (right to a fair trial), 13 (freedom of thought and expression), and 25 (right to judicial protection) of the American Convention on Human Rights

Articles I and III of the Inter-American Convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons

Procedural stage



RFKHR and Inter-American Press Association (IAPA)