More killings as Honduran journalists “preyed on” by criminal and political network

Honduran radio journalist Ángel Alfredo Villatoro was found dead on Tuesday, 15 May, six days after he was kidnapped on his way to work at HRN Radio in the capital city of Tegucigalpa. The murder was a low blow for freedom of expression in this Central American nation.  Just minutes before police reported locating a body dumped in a nearby neighbourhood, Honduran President Porfirio Lobo had raised hopes among media workers and family members, announcing government forces had received a video that showed the radio reporter was still alive. Villatoro was the last victim in a spiral of violence against media workers and institutions in Honduras. Twenty-two other journalists have been killed in Honduras in the last two years — four of them murdered in the last five months of this year.

Honduras is quickly becoming one of the most dangerous countries for journalists, up there with Mexico. The adverse conditions for the press in the country started in 2009 after a military coup against President Manuel Zelaya.

Two days ago, the National Commissioner for Human Rights Ramon Custodio, denounced what he claimed was an organised criminal and political network that preyed on the press and human rights defenders. A dozen journalists have also received death threats, according to Custodio.

The same day Villatoro was intercepted by gunmen, Erick Martinez Avila, another young reporter, was found killed.  He was a journalist and gay activist. Freedom House has criticised Honduras for not investigating attacks against media workers.

Honduras: Radio journalist kidnapped

A senior radio journalist has been kidnapped in Honduras, outside the country’s capital Tegucigalpa. News presenter on HRN Radio Alfredo Villatoro was abducted on the way to his office on Wednesday morning. The journalist’s captors contacted his family, and it is believed they will seek a ransom. Three people have been arrested in connection with the kidnapping. The abduction comes three days after journalist and rights activist  Erick Martínez Ávila was found dead at a roadside.