Freedom of Expression

Press Release R143/17

Office of the Special Rapporteur Condemns Murder of Journalist Carlos William Flores in Honduras and Urges the State to Investigate Connection to Journalistic Activity

September 9, 2017

Washington, DC - The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the murder of Canal 22 journalist Carlos William Flores in Honduras, and urges the State to investigate the crime with due diligence and determine whether it was related to his journalistic activity.

According to the information available, on September 13, Flores was reportedly shot multiple times by individuals traveling in a vehicle in the municipality of Omoa, Department of Cortés. He died shortly thereafter at a medical center. A co-worker who was with the journalist at the time was also shot, sustaining non-life-threatening injuries.  

Flores was the director of the program Sin Pelos en la lengua on Canal 22 in the community of Tegucigalpita. The channel is owned by the Omoa Association of Cable Companies (ACO), from which Flores purchased air time for his program. The journalist was known to take a critical stance toward the extractive industry in the region of Cuyamelito, Cuyamel, and Rio Motagua.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur calls upon the Honduran State to conduct a complete, effective, and impartial investigation into this crime, establish the motives, and determine judicially its potential relationship to the victim’s journalistic activity and freedom of expression. Authorities should not rule out the practice of journalism as a motive for the murder and/or assault before the investigation has been completed, and should provide the institutions responsible for investigating these types of matters with adequate resources and specialized personnel.

Both the Commission and the Inter-American Court have referred to the intimidating effect that crimes against journalists have on other media professionals as well as on citizens who seek to report abuses of power or unlawful acts of any kind. This intimidating effect can only be avoided, according to the Commission, "by swift action on the part of the State to punish all perpetrators, as is its duty under international and domestic law."

Principle 9 of the IACHR's 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 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.