Freedom of Expression

Press Release R100/11








Washington, D.C., September 12, 2011 – The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the murder of Honduran community journalist Medardo Flores, contributor of the Broad Popular Resistance Front (Frente Amplio de Resistencia Popular) which took place on September 8, in Blanquito, Puerto Cortés. The Office of the Special Rapporteur urges the State to conduct a prompt, diligent and thorough investigation which gives special attention to the possibility that the crime was connected to the victim’s journalistic and political activities.


According to available information, various unknown individuals killed Medardo Flores with firearms on the night of Thursday, September 8, in the locality where he lived. Flores, who worked in agriculture, was part of a group of volunteer community journalists on Radio Uno in San Pedro Sula, and regularly participated in opinion and interview programs. According to the information received by the Office of the Special Rapporteur, Flores was in charge of finances for the north of the country for the Broad Popular Resistance Front (or FARP), an organization led by the ex-president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya.


Medardo Flores is the fourth media worker killed in Honduras in 2011 and, at least, the 14th murdered since the coup d' Ètat, in June 2009, with regard to which authorities have not ruled out a connection to the practice of journalism.  The Office of the Special Rapporteur believes it is essential that the Honduran State demonstrate its commitment to the fight against impunity through concrete action and effective investigations, and through the protection of media outlets and journalists. The Office of the Special Rapporteur also reiterates its concern over the lack of significant progress in solving the 14 murders of media workers committed since 2009. In all these cases, it is the obligation of the State to adopt all necessary measures to identify the motive of the crime without arbitrarily dismissing the possibility that the media worker’s professional activity led to the murder. As a product of the investigations, the State should identify and prosecute those responsible, punish them where appropriate, and guarantee adequate reparation to the victims' family members.


In addition of this homicide, since 2009 the following journalists and media workers have been murdered in Honduras: Gabriel Fino Noriega, found dead in San Juan Pueblo on July 3, 2009; Joseph Hernández, murdered on March 1, 2010 in Tegucigalpa; David Meza Montesinos, murdered in La Ceiba on March 11, 2010; Nahúm Palacios, found dead in Tocoa on March 14, 2010;  Bayardo Mairena and Manuel Juárez, murdered in Juticalpa on March 26, 2010; Jorge Alberto (Georgino) Orellana, found dead on April 20, 2010 in San Pedro Sula; Luis Arturo Mondragón, murdered on June 14, 2010 in El Paraíso; Israel Zelaya, murdered in San Pedro Sula on August 24, 2010; Henry Suazo, found dead in La Masica on December 28, 2010; Hector Francisco Medina Polanco, murdered in Morazán on May 10, 2011; Luis Mendoza Cerrato, murdered in Dalí on May 19, 2011, and Nery Jeremías Orellana, killed on July 14 in Candelaria.  In none of the investigations have Honduran authorities reported any significant progress.


The ninth principle of the IACHR Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression states: "The murder, kidnapping, intimidation of and/or threats to social communicators, as well as the material destruction of communications media violate the fundamental rights of individuals and strongly restrict freedom of expression. It is the duty of the state to prevent and investigate such occurrences, to punish their perpetrators and to ensure that victims receive due compensation."


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