Freedom of Expression

Press Release 96/03


The Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), Eduardo A. Bertoni, condemns the murder of Honduran journalist German Antonio Rivas, managing editor of Corporación Maya Visión (Channel 7 ), and urges the Honduran authorities to investigate this incident and punish those responsible.  

On November 26, at 6 pm , Rivas, who was 48 years of age, was shot once as he arrived at the channel's headquarters in Santa Rosa de Copán, in western Honduras .  The journalist had previously denounced threats that he had received.  Although there is still no official theory regarding the motives for this act, according to the information received, the assassination may have been related to investigations and denunciations about matters of public interest that Rivas broadcasted during his news program.  The Office of the Special Rapporteur was informed that the Honduran Attorney General's Office has already begun an investigation of the incident and has carried out the preliminary procedural steps.     

The Special Rapporteur recalls that the assassination of journalists is the most brutal means of restricting freedom of expression.  Principle 9 of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression of the IACHR states that "The murder . . . of and/or threats to social communicators . . . violate the fundamental rights of individuals."    

The assassination, kidnapping, intimidation or threatening of social communicators have two concrete objectives.  On the one hand, they seek to eliminate those journalists that investigate abuses and irregularities in order to curtail those investigations.  On the other hand, they seek to be a tool of intimidation directed against all those who engage in investigative journalism.  

The Special Rapporteur urges the authorities to continue with the investigations to solve this crime and to find mechanisms that will effectively protect all social communicators so that they can continue to carry out their valuable work of informing society.  In this respect, he recalls the commitment made by the Heads of State and Government at the Third Summit of the Americas , when they stated that the States would ensure "that journalists and opinion leaders are free to investigate and publish without fear of reprisals."

Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression

Washington , D.C. , December 1, 2003 .