Last Updated: Tuesday, 02 September 2014, 09:24 GMT

Month of violence turns Honduras into world's most dangerous country for journalists

Publisher Reporters Without Borders
Publication Date 2 April 2010
Cite as Reporters Without Borders, Month of violence turns Honduras into world's most dangerous country for journalists, 2 April 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4bc2cd2d2c.html [accessed 2 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

"We are unable to provide you with protection," the police in the western town of San Marcos de Ocotepeque told journalist José Alemán after gunmen tried to kill him on 26 March. The correspondent of Radio América and the Diario Tiempo newspaper, Alemán fled the country after being told this. His departure ended a month in which five other journalists were murdered.

Alemán took the risk of reporting violations of free expression and human rights that have taken place since last June's coup d'état. Shortly after he received telephone threats, two gunmen opened fire on his home in his absence. He was then pursued through the streets but managed to escape.

The five murders and the flight into exile in the space of one month mean that Honduras was the world's most dangerous country for journalists in the first quarter of 2010. No one has been brought to justice for any of the murders or any of the physical attacks or acts of intimidation or censorship of journalists and human rights activists since last June's coup.

The coup lives on in what continues to take place. Worse still, the government installed after the controversial 29 November elections appointed one of the coup's generals, Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, on 8 March to head the state telecommunications company, Hondutel. His appointment is an incentive to further impunity.

Reporters Without Borders is one of the signatories of a petition addressed to Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, whose government currently holds the European Union's rotating presidency. A resolution is needed at the European level, and other levels, urging the new Honduran government to react to this collapse of the rule of law.

(Photo : AFP)

27.03.10 - Two journalists gunned down in ambush, bringing media death toll in March to five

Reporters Without Borders offers its condolences to the relatives and colleagues of local radio journalists Bayardo Mairena and Manuel Juárez, who were ambushed and slain by gunmen on 26 March in eastern Honduras. After spraying their car with bullets, the gunmen cold-bloodedly finished them off with shots fire at close range, witnesses said.

Their deaths bring the number of journalists killed in Honduras since the start of the year to five. All of these murders took place in March.

"Honduras and Mexico rank as the western hemisphere's two deadliest countries by far for journalists in 2010," Reporters Without Borders said. "Five have been killed in Honduras even if investigators have not yet completely established the motive in some cases. Aside from the problem of organised crime, the Honduran media continue to be major targets of the post-coup repression. We urge the authorities to act energetically to curb this violence and identify those responsible."

Mairena and Juarez were ambushed near Juticalpa, in the eastern province of Olancho, while on their way back from hosting a radio programme in Catacamas. Colleagues described Mairena, 52, as a radio journalism pioneer in Olancho province. Juárez, 55, had worked for Radio Nacional for years.

The head of the Honduran Press Association urged President Porfirio Lobo to rein in the wave of killings of journalists. Reporters Without Borders is also concerned about recent threats against the staff of Radio Uno, a privately-owned opposition station in San Pedro Sula. Despite being in the army's sights since last June's coup d'état, it continues to take risks by covering human rights violations.

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