Freedom of Expression

Press Release R15/09


PREN R15/09





Washington, D.C, April 3, 2009 - The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States deplores the murder of Rafael Munguía Ortiz, correspondent for Radio Cadena Voces, in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, which occurred on March 31, 2009. Likewise, the Office of the Special Rapporteur condemns the murder of Rolando Santiz, reporter of TV channel Telecentro 13, which happened on April 1, 2009, in City of Guatemala, Guatemala, and also the attack against cameraman Antonio de Leon, from the same TV channe, who was seriously wounded. The Office of the Special Rapporteur urges authorities from Honduras and from Guatemala to investigate this crime promptly and effectively, and to duly prosecute those responsible.


According to the information published by local press and non governmental organizations, on the afternoon of March 31, 2009, unidentified persons traveling in a car shot Rafael Munguía, in San Pedro Sula. The reporter died in the place after receiving several gunshots. Munguía was a correspondent for Radio Cadena Voces and recently he had been reporting on criminal activities and on organized crime. In October 2007, Carlos Salgado, journalist who had a show also at Radio Cadena Voces was shot down when he was leaving the radio in Tegucigalpa.


In City of Guatemala, on April 1 2009, when Rolando Santiz and cameraman Antonio de León were in the channel car, they were attacked by two unidentified men who shot them from a motorcycle. Santiz died immediately because of the gunshots he received. The cameraman was seriously wounded. According to the information published by local press and non governmental organizations, both reporters were coming back from covering a murder case. Santiz used to cover police information, including issues related to organized crime. According to the information received, the journalists would have been threatened in the past, possibly because of his journalistic work.


The Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, Catalina Botero Marino, requested an exhaustive investigation on both murders to the Honduran and Guatemalan authorities. "These crimes are particularly worrisome, as both journalists used to report on stories related to the organized crime. It is of vital importance that these murders do not stay in impunity, that these reporters’ families are duly repaired, and that all the necessary measures are adopted in order to avoid what murders are aiming: to silence the press and to keep society uninformed of their crimes. In that sense, authorities of both countries should ensure, in the most effective way, all reporters’ safety, so that they could keep reporting on issues that are of enormous public interests, such as organized crime," the Special Rapporteur said.



Under the American Convention on Human Rights, States have the duty to prevent, investigate, and sanction any violation of the rights recognized therein. Principle 9 of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression of the IACHR states that "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." The principle also says: "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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