Nery Jeremías Orellana, 26, the manager of Radio Joconguera in the town of Candelaria, in the western department of Lempira, was gunned down yesterday morning, bringing the number of Honduran journalists killed since the start of the year to three. A total of 12 journalists have been killed in the past 18 months in Honduras without any of their murders being solved.
“Orellana headed a commercial radio station that works with civil society organizations and belongs to an alternative network of community radio stations,” Reporters Without Borders said. “He was also a member of the Broad Front of Popular Resistance (FARP), an opposition movement. All this means that he was kind of journalist who was liable to be a target for violence.”
The press freedom organisation added: “The motive for his murder has yet to be determined, but the possibility that it was linked to his journalistic or political activities should be prioritized in an investigation that needs to be carried out quickly. When will there be justice in Honduras? When will the impunity end?
“Honduras’ recent readmission to the Organization of American States, has not in any way addressed the problems created by the June 2009 coup d’état or the resulting challenges that the country still faces – the need to restore the rule of law and establish real pluralism. The international community must not forget these demands.”
According to the Honduran Committee for Free Expression (C-Libre), Orellana was shot several times in the head on his motorcyle by gunmen just minutes after he phoned Radio Progreso, a station for which he was also a correspondent, to confirm that he was going to participate in a regional meeting of community radio stations today.
He was rushed to a hospital in Sensutepeque, a town on the Salvadoran side of the nearby border, where he died of his injuries a few hours later.
Radio Joconguera often covered human rights violations in the surrounding communities. The persecution of other stations such as Radio Faluma Bimetu and La Voz de Zacate Grande has shown how dangerous it can be for certain local media to cover social issues and land conflicts.