Honduras: Prominent TV journalist gunned down in the street
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is very worried about the level of violence against the media in Honduras and urges the authorities to do everything possible to shed light on the latest case – TV journalist Igor Padilla’s murder yesterday in the northwestern city of San Pedro Sula.
Padilla covered crime for the national TV channel HCH and produced an HCH comedy show called “Los Verduleros.” He was gunned down in the street in the city’s Suyapa district, outside a children’s shop where he was supervising the filming of a TV ad.
Witnesses said Padilla walked out of the shop after receiving a phone call. A pickup then pulled up and four armed men in the back, who were masked and wearing police uniforms, opened fire, riddling him with bullets. He was rushed to hospital but was dead on arrival.
Padilla had not reported receiving any threats and had not requested special protection.
“We call on the Honduran authorities to identify the instigators and perpetrators of this shocking murder without delay and to bring them to justice,” said Emmanuel Colombié, the head of RSF’s Latin America desk.
“The entire Honduran press was targeted via Igor Padilla. Honduras continues to be one of the western hemisphere’s most dangerous countries for journalists. The government should lose no time in creating an effective protective mechanism in order to end this deadly spiral of violence.”
HCH director and journalist Eduardo Maldonado received a threatening message on his Facebook page on 12 January accusing journalist Elsa Oseguera of being affiliated to the Maratruchas (Mara MS) crime gang and warning him that if he did not fire her, two other HCH journalists - Ernesto Rojas and Suly Cálix - would be murdered
It is yet impossible to know whether the message and Padilla’s murder were connected. But such practices are typical of the climate of threats and tension to which the media are exposed in Honduras. A combination of criminal violence and political corruption is responsible for one of Latin America’s highest levels of impunity.
Honduras is ranked 137th out of 180 counties in RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index.