Freedom of Expression

Press Release R50/13







Washington, D.C., July 15, 2013 – The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the murder of journalist Aníbal Barrow, who was kidnapped on June 24, and whose mutilated body was found on July 9 in the city of Villanueva, department of Cortés. The Office of the Special Rapporteur expresses its deep concern and urges the Honduran authorities to act urgently to establish the motive of this crime and to investigate, prosecute and punish the perpetrators and masterminds responsible for the kidnapping and murder of the journalist.


According to the information received, Barrow, who was the host of the television program ‘Aníbal Barrow y nada más’ on Globo TV, was kidnapped by armed persons on June 24 in the city of San Pedro Sula, department of Cortés. The journalist was in his car with two family members and a driver when unknown individuals hijacked the vehicle, freed his companions, and then kidnapped him. The vehicle was found hours later and contained blood stains and bullet holes.


The authorities began an intense search to locate the journalist, and he was finally found on July 9 near a lake in the city of Villanueva. According to reports, the body of the journalist was mutilated and partially burned. Police authorities have reported that four suspects have been arrested and that an arrest warrant has been issued for four other suspects for their alleged connection to the crime.


The Office of the Special Rapporteur considers it essential for the Honduran State to clarify the motive for these crimes; identify, prosecute, and punish those responsible; and adopt fair measures of reparation for the victim's family. The Office of the Special Rapporteur insists that the State needs to create special investigative bodies and protocols, as well as protection mechanisms designed to ensure the safety of those who are being threatened because of their work in journalism. In light of the series of murders committed against journalists in Honduras, it is critical that the State carry out a complete, effective, and impartial investigation of these crimes, which have a negative impact on all of Honduran society.


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."


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.