Officials urged to act to halt crime wave
MIAMI, Florida (March 29, 2010)–The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today expressed great concern at a wave of murders of journalists in Honduras, the two latest on Friday bringing the total so far this month to five. It urged the authorities to act promptly and in an exemplary manner to bring those responsible to justice.
Journalists José Bayardo Mairena, 52, and Manuel Juárez, 55, were traveling in their car around 11:30 a.m. on March 26 along a highway in Olancho state in eastern Honduras when they were shot at from another vehicle. Mairena, from Radio Excélsior radio station, host of the program “Así es Olancho” (That’s Olancho), died instantly, while Juárez, his assistant, was rushed to hospital, where he later died of his wounds.
IAPA President Alejandro Aguirre, editor of the Miami, Florida, Spanish-language newspaper Diario Las Américas, offered his sympathy to the dead men’s family members and colleagues and declared, “We are appalled at the terrible wave of violence that has been unleashed this year against journalists in Honduras and we fear that if the authorities do not step in swiftly and decisively we will be bewailing the death of other colleagues.”
For his part, the chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Robert Rivard, editor of the San Antonio Express-News, Texas, added his voice to the call for a prompt investigation, saying, “In addition to the deep void that the physical disappearance of a journalist leaves it is an informative voice that is silenced and in turn a fissure opens up in the people’s right to receive information of public interest.”
Other journalists murdered in Honduras this month have been Nahún Palacios, on March 14, David Meza, on March 11, and Joseph Hernández Ochoa, on March 1.
At their recent membership meeting in Aruba IAPA officers strongly criticized the Honduran government in the organization’s report on the state of the press in the Central American country over the climate of impunity there. They gave as an example the fact that in 2009 three other journalists had been killed – Bernardo Rivera Paz, kidnapped in March and his body being found on July 9, Santiago Rafael Munguía, murdered on March 31, and Gabriel Fino Noriega, slain on July 3, with no one responsible having been identified, charged or brought to trial.
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. The IAPA Impunity Project, http://www.impunidad.com, is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and has the mission of combating violence against journalists and reducing the impunity surrounding the majority of such crimes.