Freedom of Expression

Press release R156/22

SRFOE condemns murder of journalist Ricardo Ávila in Honduras

July 12, 2022

Washington, D.C. - The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression (SRFOE) of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the murder of journalist Ricardo Ávila in Honduras and urges the State to investigate these events in a complete, effective and impartial manner, considering a possible link between the crime and the exercise of journalistic work and punishing whoever is responsible.

According to publicly available information, on May 26, 2022, around 4:30 in the morning, unknown subjects intercepted and shot journalist Ricardo Ávila of MetroTV as he was on his way from the municipality of Marcovia to Choluteca. After the attack, Ávila was taken to a hospital in Choluteca and later to another institution in Tegucigalpa, where he died on May 29.

The Honduran National Police reported that the journalist was the victim of an attempted robbery and that the assailants had taken some of his belongings. However, this hypothesis has been disputed by reports from people close to Ricardo Ávila, who said that the perpetrators did not steal any valuable belongings after shooting him, such as his wallet, cell phone and motorcycle. On May 30, in a statement to the press, a commissioner of the National Police reported that homicide investigations were continuing.

In its 2019 Situation of Human Rights in Honduras report, the IACHR recalled that States have the obligation to protect journalists who are at risk because of the exercise of their profession and to initiate timely investigations when attacks occur. This Office recalls that it is the duty of the State to punish whoever is responsible and guarantee reparations to the victims. In this regard, SRFOE urges the State of Honduras to continue the investigations with due diligence, to punish the intellectual and material authors, and to provide clear and transparent information regarding the actions taken and findings in the case. Likewise, the Office of the Special Rapporteur emphasizes that the investigations should not rule out the evaluation of the possible link between the crime and the practice of journalism, as this could hinder the identification of possible masterminds.

As has been mentioned on previous occasions by this Office and by the IACHR, violence against journalists and impunity for these crimes seriously affect the exercise of the right to freedom of expression in Honduras. Furthermore, the Inter-American Court has reaffirmed that the combination of violence and impunity against the press has a highly negative impact on the integrity of journalists, which directly affects the right of access to information for society in general.

Finally, SRFOE calls on the State to make its best efforts to provide a forceful institutional response to violence against the press and to seek its cessation, in order to effectively guarantee the right of journalists and communicators to exercise their informative work in an environment free of violence and censorship.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression is an Office created by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to stimulate the hemispheric defense of the right to freedom of thought and expression, considering its fundamental role in the consolidation and development of the democratic system.