Alfredo Villatoro was found with two gunshot wounds to the head
He is the 22nd journalist killed in Honduras since 2010
Committee to Protect Journalists says killers have found impunity for these crimes
A Honduran radio journalist has been found executed, authorities said – the 22nd journalist to be killed in the nation since 2010.
As he drove to work last week, Alfredo Villatoro Angel was kidnapped by six unknown people traveling in two vehicles, police said. His body was found Tuesday night.
“He had two shots to the head, and his face was covered with a red bandanna,” Security Ministry spokesman Ivan Mejia said.
Dozens of relatives, co-workers and government officials flocked to the morgue in Tegucigalpa in solidarity. Video showed dozens of people crying and holding each other.
Villatoro is the latest in what the Committee to Protect Journalists this month called a “wave of violence and intimidation against journalists.”
According to the media freedom organization, an atmosphere of violence and impunity has made Honduras one of the most dangerous countries for journalists.
“A climate of unrelenting hostility toward Honduran journalists is restricting the flow of news and eroding citizens’ right to information,” Carlos Lauría, the Committee to Protect Journalists’ senior program coordinator for the Americas, said last week. “This situation endures because Honduran authorities have yet to take decisive action to enforce the law and guarantee the safety of journalists.”
According to the United Nations, Honduras has the highest homicide rate per capita in the world.
Danilo Izaguirre, who was Villatoro’s companion at National Radio Honduras (HRN by its Spanish initials), said journalists will continue their work, despite the message the killers are sending.
“If it (the message) is to shut up, I will not be silent. If it is about speaking the truth, we’ll tell the truth anywhere we are located, from any trench, from anywhere,” he said.
President Lobo, who took office in 2010, urged journalists not to be intimidated and said the government will continue to fight crime.
But according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Lobo’s government has minimized crimes against journalists and has been slow in bringing the killers to justice.
According to the country’s Public Ministry, only five cases relating to journalist killings are being processed, and no one has been convicted.
“This is serious, especially the degree of impunity … in these cases of death and threats against journalists and the media. That tells the world that we have failed in criminal investigations,” said Andres Pavon, president of the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in Honduras.