For immediate release
Ronnie Lovler, SPJ International Journalism Committee Chairwoman,
Kevin Smith, SPJ President,
INDIANAPOLIS - The Society of Professional Journalists expresses grave concern over the recent wave of killings of journalists in Honduras and calls upon President Porfirio Lobo Sosa to investigate these crimes fully in order to bring the killers to justice.
Five journalists have been killed in the past few weeks in what appears to be the same type of drug-related gang violence that is plaguing Mexico. Honduras is a hotbed for highly organized street gangs.
Targeting journalists who report on the gangs or drug trafficking can result in self-censorship. The mass media in Honduras already have a history of harassment by official sources, and are hamstrung as well by the country’s high rate or poverty and illiteracy.
José Bayardo Mairena and Manuel Juárez, journalists for radio stations Excelsior and Super 10, were killed April 2 while driving from Catacamas and Juticalpa, north of the capital city of Tegucigalpa. According to local press reports, their car was riddled by gunfire by unidentified assailants who drove next to them.
In March, reporters Nahúm Palacios Arteaga, David Meza and Joseph Hernández Ochoa were all shot to death.
These attacks against journalists are attacks against the human rights of the Honduran people themselves, who have a right to be informed of the activities of the gangs operating in their country. SPJ calls upon President Lobo Sosa to apply the full weight of his government’s investigative powers to solving these heinous crimes in order to send a signal that threats against journalists will not be tolerated.
Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information about SPJ, please visit www.spj.org.