Miami (July 7, 2011)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today urged the authorities of Honduras to carry out a prompt investigation into the murder of journalist Adán Benítez and called for a show of greater political will to solve the cases of another 13 newsmen killed since 2009, most them remaining unpunished.
Benítez, 42, worked at Radio Macintosh radio station and at Canal 14 television in the town of Ceiba, Atlántida province, 250 miles north of the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa. At around 6:30 p.m. on Monday (July 4) he was intercepted by two unidentified men who shot him as he was leaving work and heading home.
IAPA President Gonzalo Marroquín, president of the Guatemala City, Guatemala, newspaper Siglo 21, reminded the government of President Porfirio Lobo that acts of violence “should be investigated promptly and punished severely. He added, “To keep crimes affecting society at large unsolved is to deprive the victim and his family of justice and in the case of journalists to restrict the people’s right to receive information."
According to initial police inquiries the motive for the murder was believed to be robbery, due to the fact that Benítez was stripped of his belongings. A journalist with more than 16 years’ radio and television experience, last week according to local media he had exposed a gang of car thieves on a morning television news program.
The chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Robert Rivard, editor of the San Antonio Express-News, Texas, expressed regret that “the police are putting forward theories on this case, saying the murder was not due to the victim’s work, but then failing to do more in-depth investigation to come up with concrete evidence.” He added that what is needed in Honduras is “greater political will to solve crimes against journalists.”
Also murdered in Honduras since 2009 have been Luis Mendoza and Héctor Francisco Medina Polanco in 2011; Israel Zelaya Díaz, Luis Arturo Mondragón, Jorge Alberto Orellana, Víctor Manuel Juárez, José Bayardo Mairena, Nahúm Palacios y David Meza and Joseph A. Hernández Ochoa in 2010; Gabriel Fino Noriega, Rafael Munguía and Bernardo Rivera in 2009.
To date 15 journalists have been killed in Latin America and one other has gone missing – in Mexico, 4 murders; Honduras, 3; Brazil, 2; Colombia 1, El Salvador 1, Guatemala 1, Paraguay 1, Peru 1 and Venezuela 1.
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 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. For more information please go to http://www.sipiapa.org; http://www.impunidad.com.