Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 January 2018, 10:13 GMT

Attacks on the Press in 2012 - Honduras

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date 14 February 2013
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 2012 - Honduras, 14 February 2013, available at: [accessed 17 January 2018]
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.

Key Developments

  • Severe anti-press attacks continue amid a climate of pervasive violence.

  • Impunity rate is high as government fails to solve journalist murders.

Journalists who report on sensitive issues such as drug trafficking, government corruption, and land conflicts face frequent threats and attacks in a nation so gripped by violence and lawlessness that it has become one of the most murderous places in the world. The abduction and murder of Ángel Alfredo Villatoro, one of the country's best-known journalists and a friend of President Porfirio Lobo, made headlines for weeks and prompted nationwide demonstrations against anti-press violence. The authorities did not identify a motive but charged three people in the attack. Reflecting the deep polarization that followed the 2009 military-backed coup, attacks against reporters seen as supportive of the ousted president, Manuel Zelaya, attracted far less attention and official action. CPJ research shows that the authorities have been slow and negligent in investigating numerous journalist murders and other anti-press crimes since the 2009 coup, even as they have tried to minimize the extent of the violence. Official negligence in the investigations–CPJ found that the authorities often failed to interview witnesses or collect evidence–has made it difficult to determine the motives in many of the cases. While the U.S. Senate said it would withhold some aid from Honduras due to alleged human rights violations by police, the State Department announced the creation of a Bilateral Human Rights Working Group to assist the Honduran government with investigations into journalist murders.

[Refworld note: The sections that follow represent a best effort to transcribe onto a single page information that appears in tabs on the CPJ's own pages, which also include a number of dynamically-generated graphics not readily reproducible here. Refworld researchers are therefore strongly recommended to check against the original report: Attacks on the Press in 2012.]

Impunity in journalist murders: 80%

CPJ research has found journalist murders are rarely solved. Convictions have been obtained in one of five cases since 1992. Reporters covering crime, corruption, and politics have been especially vulnerable to attacks.

Beats covered by murder victims*:

60%: Corruption
60%: Crime
40%: Politics
20%: Business
20%: Culture

* Adds up to more than 100 percent because more than one beat applies in certain cases.

Murders since 2009 coup: 15

CPJ research shows at least three journalists have been murdered in direct relation to their work since the coup. Twelve others have been killed in unclear circumstances, and CPJ continues to investigate.

A closer look at work-related murders:

60%: Victims threatened beforehand

60%: Victims were broadcast reporters

40%: Killings suspected to have been committed by political groups

Non-fatal shootings, 2012: 3

In separate attacks, gunmen fired on Radio Cadena Voces reporter José Encarnación Chinchilla López, JBN internacional television journalist Selvin Hercules Martínez, and Channel 6 correspondent Elder Joel Aguilar. No fatalities were reported.

Breakdown of attacks:

2: Homes fired upon

1: Car targeted

1: Family member wounded, hospitalized

Global homicide ranking: 1st

A 2011 U.N. report found that Honduras had the world's highest per capita homicide rate, with 82.1 murders per every 100,000 inhabitants.

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