Newsman goes into exile
Miami (April 6, 2010)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today issued a strong and urgent open call to the Honduran authorities in a demonstration of its concern over a new attack that led a newsman to leave the country, calling on the government to end impunity, investigate and bring to justice those guilty of the murder of five journalists in March.
IAPA President Alejandro Aguirre, editor of the Miami, Florida, Spanish-language newspaper Diario Las Américas, called on the Honduran government to “investigate thoroughly and bring the full weight of the law to bear upon the perpetrators and masterminds involved in the murder and attacks upon journalists, because there is no greater incentive for those who resort to violence than the lack of punishment for their crimes.”
Aguirre specifically addressed President Porfirio Lobo, who, in a meeting in Tegucigalpa with the IAPA on February 18th to sign the IAPA-sponsored Declaration of Chapultepec, stressed that his government was committed to defending the right of all people to freedom of expression. Aguirre expressed his satisfaction with the government’s announcement yesterday that it will pay a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the murderers.
The IAPA president also asked the news media in the Central American country to consider taking further steps to ensure the protection and safety of their journalists, an issue that was under study during a meeting between Mexican and Honduran editors and publishers on how to avoid violence, called by Aguirre at the hemisphere free press organization’s Midyear Meeting in Aruba last month.
Five newsmen were murdered in Honduras last month – José Bayardo Mairena and Manuel Juárez on March 26; Nahún Palacio on March 14; David Meza on March 11 and Joseph Hernández Ochoa on March 1 – a figure that puts the country on a par with Mexico as the most dangerous places in the Americas to work as a journalist.
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 that “We haven’t seen any progress either in the murders of Bernardo Rivera Paz, Santiago Rafael Munguía and Gabriel Fino Noriega, committed between March and July 2009, which only adds to the general climate of impunity; we regret that given the lack of immediate action, other journalists have left the country or resorted to self-censorship as the only ways to protect themselves.”
During the same period reporter Carol Cabrera of Radio Cadenas radio network and Canal 8 television was also attacked during a March 1 assault in which Joseph Hernández Ochoa was killed. Cabrera, who is still recovering from her wounds, has refused to leave the hospital out of fear of being murdered. In a separate incident, José Alemán, a correspondent of Radio América and stringer for the newspaper Tiempo, left the country on March 28 after receiving threats, being followed and after unidentified assailants entered his home when he was not there and fired shots.
The IAPA, http://www.sipiapa.org, 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 lessening the impunity surrounding the majority of such crimes.