IAPA outraged at murder of cameraman in Honduras

It calls on government to apply protective measures

Miami (October 28, 2013)—The murder in Honduras of cameraman Manuel Murillo Varela brought a strong protest from the Inter American Press Association (IAPA), which urged the government of the Central American country to comply with commitments made at a national and international level concerning measures to protect journalists.

Murillo Varela, 32, was killed on October 23, his body was found a day after with three bullet wounds to the face in the Colonia Independencia neighborhood of Comayagüela in Tegucigalpa. In 2010 he had worked at Globo TV and on the state-owned Canal 8 television. He was also the official cameraman of President Manuel Zelaya in 2008, prior to the 2009 coup détat in Honduras.

According to local media, Murillo Varela was a member of the Partido Libertad y Refundación  (Freedom and Refoundation Party – LIBRE) conformed in part by future presidential candidate, the wife of former president Zelaya, Xiomara Castro, and in which he had planned to run for a local council office.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights provided Murillo Varela with protective measures on February 25, 2010 after he denounced on February 2 that he and a colleague had been kidnapped and tortured by police officers dressed in civilian clothes, who took them to a clandestine prison. Local media states that the officers threatened to kill members of his family if he did not hand over videos filmed at a protests being staged by the Popular Resistance National Front (FNRP) following the ouster of Zelaya.

In referring to Honduras, the chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Claudio Paolillo, recalled that in the country’s report on the state of press freedom presented during the IAPA’s annual meeting this week in Denver, Colorado, it was said that “there has been no end in this period to the climate of lack of safety of the press” and a warning was made about the seriousness of the lack of justice, given that 36 murders of journalists had occurred since 2003 and “only one case has been brought to trial and been subject to a conviction, which means that 97% of the cases continue to go unpunished.”

Paolillo, editor of the Montevideo, Uruguay, weekly Búsqueda, reiterated to the Honduran government the urgency of solving the murder of journalist Aníbal Barrow, killed in June, and insisted on the need of creating a system of protection for journalists, among other steps, and elaborating reforms of public policies which the country should adopt to punish crimes against freedom of the press.

The IAPA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press and of expression in the Americas. It is made up of more than 1,300 print publications from throughout the Western Hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida. For more information please go to http://www.sipiapa.org.

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