Honduras: Journalist Alfredo Villatoro disappeared
|Publication Date||11 May 2012|
|Cite as||Article 19, Honduras: Journalist Alfredo Villatoro disappeared, 11 May 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4fb0cf0a2.html [accessed 1 December 2015]|
The disappearance of news presenter and content coordinator of NHR news, Alfredo Villatoro was confirmed on 10 May. Colleagues and relatives of Villatoro were alarmed when the journalist did not arrived yesterday morning to his daily news broadcast due to start its transmission at five in the morning. Hours later, Villatoro's car was found in a residential area in the Honduran capital.
The Metropolitan Police announced that they had information obtained from surveillance cameras, which show Villatoro´s car being intercepted by two other vehicles that were driven by men whose appearance was similar to those of members of youth gangs know as "maras".
Villatoro is responsible for coordinating the investigations and coverage of HRN reporters, one of the larger stations in Honduras. Among the many sensitive issues covered by him are public safety, drug trafficking and police corruption.
A contact whose name cannot be revealed for security reasons, told ARTICLE 19 in an interview that "This is more than a kidnapping, they want to intimidate everyone and silence the media". According to the information given in the interviewer, the captors called Villatoro´s colleagues demanding they pay for the medicine they had to buy for Villatoro, and the location where they had to deliver the money would be indicated later on. According to some of Villatoro´s colleagues one of the guards at the Central Mall "Centroamérica", warned Villatoro that while he was inside the facility two people watched his car and photographed it.
In 2009, an explosive device was detonated in the facilities of NRH radio station and other media companies owned by Rafael Ferrari and his family. In the attack one employee was injured.
Since 2008 there have been 21 journalists killed in Mexico, but journalists are not the only victims of violence against freedom of expression in Honduras, human rights activist and members of political opposition have also suffered.
ARTICLE 19 has denounced on several occasions not only the killing of journalists, human rights defenders and political activists, but also the impunity in which these cases remain.
We would like to express our solidarity with the family and colleagues of Villatoro, and call on the authorities to undertake all necessary actions to find his whereabouts.
ARTICLE 19 calls upon Honduras to fulfill their obligations to guarantee freedom of expression, as they committed to during their Universal Periodic Review in 2010, as well as guaranteeing combating impunity and building effective protection mechanism for the press and the community of human rights defenders.