Mexico: ARTICLE 19 takes the case of journalist and human rights defender Lydia Cacho to the UN Human Rights Committee

Nine years have passed since December 16, 2005 when Lydia Cacho was arbitrarily detained and tortured. She has lived through harassment, threats, exile, and all for one reason: reporting the abuse of political power, paedophile rings and sex trafficking.

These have also been years of demanding justice from the Mexican authorities, which to date have only received silence.

After exposing these issues in Mexico and other countries, ARTICLE 19 is taking the case to the UN Human Rights Committee (HR Committee), in the absence of justice in Mexico.

The communication, which is being submitted to the HR Committee on 15 October during its sessions in Geneva, Switzerland, is the first related to a Mexican journalist and human rights defender.

The HR Committee is responsible for monitoring compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ratified by Mexico in 1981), and also has competence to examine individual complaints  with regard to alleged violations of the Covenant, including in Mexico, such as that of journalist and human rights defender Cacho.

The Committee is composed of 18 independent experts who hold sessions 3 times a year in Geneva and New York. The individual complaint in this case is being submitted during the last session of the HR Committee this year.

For ARTICLE 19, the global campaign for freedom of expression, this is an opportunity to force the Mexican government to bring truth, justice and reparation to the journalist, as well as examine the status of systematic violence against journalists and human rights defenders in Mexico, especially in a context of lack of State action in the fight against impunity.

The route of impunity

Lydia Cacho was arrested arbitrarily, incommunicado and tortured on 16 December 2005, accused of defamation and slander.

– The Judicial Police of the state of Puebla, jointly with the Attorney General of the state of Quintana Roo, arrested the journalist in Cancun without being legally entitled to do so.

– While transferring Cacho from Quintana Roo to Puebla (about 1500 miles away), the journalist was held incommunicado and tortured.

– She was accused of slander by businessman Kamel Nacif after publishing her book The Demons of Eden, who presumably had ties to a paedophile ring. Presumably the objective was to send her to prison as a punishment and to silence for her journalistic and human rights advocacy work.

– In this context, several recordings were leaked. In these the governor of Puebla, Mario MarĂ­n, a friend of Kamel Nacif, offered to to punish journalist Lydia Cacho for the book.

– After an intense trial, the journalist was acquitted a year later.

It did not end there

Since 2005, Lydia Cacho has been attacked and threatened by issues related to her work as a journalist and human rights defender. Even in 2012 she had to leave the country because of threats against her life.


For her work in defense of human rights, Lydia Cacho has been awarded several prizes. Including:

Ginetta Sagan Award of Amnesty International (2007)

International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF)

Human Rights Watch for the Defense of Human Rights (2008)

Oxfam bravery in defense of Women’s Rights (2008)

Harold Pinter PEN Club Prize (London, 2010)

UN Ambassador against Trafficking in Women and Girls (Appointment of the UN and the Spanish Government, 2010)

And in 2011, Newsweek & The Daily Beast named her “One of the 100 women who move the world.” Inviting her to lecture in New York with Hillary Clinton.

Books published:

Servants of power, Grijalbo, 2010

Memoirs of a shame, Grijalbo, 2008

This mouth is mine, Planet, 2006

The Demons of Eden, Grijalbo, 2005