Reporters Without Borders

Attacks and threats aimed at provincial media reach alarming level

Attacks and threats aimed at provincial media reach alarming level

Published on Friday 4 May 2012.
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After the recent wave of threats suffered by the journalist and rights activist Dina Meza, further attacks and threats aimed at media workers in late April show it is impossible for them to do their jobs free from danger.

Honduras has seen 26 deaths among journalists in a decade, 19 of them in the period immediately after the June, 2009 coup d’état. To date, none of these cases has been solved.

“We await confirmation from the authorities that full protection will be afforded to all journalists and human rights activists targeted by attacks and death threats, whose cases have been notified by ourselves and our partner organization, C-Libre,” Reporters Without Borders said.

“Such measures must be the subject of genuine follow-up by relevant civil society representatives.”

Elder Joel Aguilar, a local reporter for the television station Canal 6, survived a submachine-gun attack by two men who pursued him in a car on the road between La Entrada, in Copán department, and San Pedro Sula. After the attack, his car had 14 bullet holes. The attackers’ vehicle was of a type believed to be used by criminal gangs active in the region, whose illegal activities the journalist had highlighted on air.

Another Canal 6 journalist, Santiago Cerna, director of the programmes “Actualidades 2012” and “Al Punto”, received threats via his mobile telephone on 26 April. The next day, Cerna was intercepted by a car without a license plate and with tinted windows while he was on his way to a restaurant in San Pedro Sula.

Cerna, who often covers local politics and has been threatened and physically attacked in the past, is the fifth journalist in San Pedro de Sula to be the target of death threats, according the C-Libre.

In another attack, the home of Selvín Martínez, a correspondent for the station JBN Televisión, was machine-gunned in a drive-by shooting in Omoa in Cortés department on 26 April. The journalists, who had just returned from San Pedro de Sula, witnessed the incident which occurred while his two children, aged three and five, were playing outside the house.

There were 16 bullet marks at the scene, although no one was injured. When he telephoned the police to report the attack, the officer who took the call told him “I am in a meeting.”

He suspected the reason for the attack was his coverage of a complaint by a woman constituent that she had been refused financial assistance by the mayor.

Reporters Without Borders, which has updated its list of Predators of Freedom of information for World Press Freedom Day on May 3, notes that Honduras has one name on the list, that of Miguel Facussé Barjum. Meanwhile, community and opposition journalists continue to be buffeted by the crackdown spawned by the 2009 coup.

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