Office of the Special Rapporteur Urges the
State of Honduras to Investigate the Killing
of Several Journalists This Year Under the
Hypothesis of an Attack to Freedom of Expression
July 15, 2015
Washington, D.C. – The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its concern on the several killings of journalists and media workers in Honduras and urges the State to thoroughly investigate the cases under the hypothesis of being motivated on the exercise of journalistic activities.
According to the information available, eight media workers were killed this year: journalists Carlos Fernández, from Channel 27 in Roatan, and Juan Carlos Cruz Andara, from Teleport channel in Puerto Cortes, media worker Artemio Deras Orellana, from 94.1 La Voz de los Profetas radio station in Lempira, radio host Franklin Johan Dubón, from Radio Sulaco in Yoro, radio operator Erick Arriaga, from Radio Globo in Tegucigalpa, cameramen Deibi Adalí Rodríguez, from channel 13 Telemás in Copan, and Cristel Joctán López Bermúdez, from Channel 12 in Comayagüela, and businessman Aquiles Torres Alvarenga, owner of channel 67 Taulavisión in Comayagua. Jacobo Montoya Ramírez, brother of two journalists from San Pedro Sula, was also killed in circumstances that could be linked to the job activities of his siblings.
It is not yet possible to affirm if the crimes have a connection with the work of these persons as journalists and social communicators. For the Office of the Special Rapporteur it is crucial that the Honduran State investigates these crimes that affect the whole Honduran society in a complete, effective and impartial way, and to judicially determine the relationship that they could have with their activities on journalism and freedom of expression. The authorities should not discard the exercise of journalism as a motive of the killing and/or aggression before the investigation is complete.
On this issue, Frank La Rue, former Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression of the United Nations, recommended the Honduran State during an official visit in 2012 that "in all cases of violence directed at journalists or human rights defenders, the initial presumption — until proven otherwise — should be that the incident occurred as a result of the person’s profession or activities."
The Office of the Special Rapporteur insists that the State needs to create special investigative bodies and protocols, as well as to implement the protection mechanisms established by the law of Protection for Defenders of Human Rights, Journalists, Media Workers and Justice Operators, designed to ensure the integrity of those who are being threatened because of their work in journalism.
After the in loco visit to Honduras in December 2014, the IACHR reiterated that "it is essential for the State of Honduras to urgently conduct investigations in order to shed light on the deaths of peasants, persons deprived of liberty, human rights defenders, journalists and media workers, women, and LGBT persons, and to prosecute and punish those responsible for these crimes. Maintaining impunity not only constitutes a denial of justice for the victims’ next of kin, but also sends a message to society that violence against these persons is tolerated by the State."
Principle 9 of the IACHR Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression states: "[t]he 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."
The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression was created by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to encourage the defense of the right to freedom of thought and expression in the hemisphere, given the fundamental role this right plays in consolidating and developing the democratic system.
* Version updated on July 16, 2015. The State of Honduras offered to provide more information on the mentioned cases, which will be incorporated shortly.
 United Nations. Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. Addendum. Mission to Honduras. A/HRC/23/40/Add.1. March 23, 2013. Par. 40.