Radio Progreso marketing manager Carlos Mejía Orellana was found murdered in his home in the northern city of El Progreso on the night of 11 April. He was stabbed several times in the chest.
Mejía had worked for the past 13 years for El Progreso-based Radio Progreso, one of the many Honduran media that criticized the 2009 coup d’état. According to he station’s manager, Jesuit priest Ismael Moreno, around 15 of its employees have received death threats since the coup.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) formally asked the Honduran government to protect Mejía in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Father Moreno has accused the authorities of ignoring these requests and the threats Mejía received, although his life was clearly in danger.
“We condemn Mejía’s murder and we call on the authorities to carry out a full investigation so that both the perpetrators and instigators are punished,” said Camille Soulier, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Americas desk.
“Although a motive has not yet been established, the police have already said they think it might have been a crime of passion. We ask them not to rule out a possible link to the victim’s work right from the outset.”
Soulier added: “The authorities urgently need to adopt appropriate measures and apply them in advance to end the cycle of violence affecting Honduran media personnel. They should have taken account of the IACHR’s warnings about the threats to Mejía. An effective protective mechanism must be created and applied to all threatened journalists and media workers who request it.”
Ranked 129th out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index, Honduras is one of the western hemisphere’s most dangerous places for the media. Death threats are often carried out and impunity prevails.
Reporters Without Borders is very concerned about Dennis Menjivar, a crime reporter for Canal 6 in the northern city of Choloma, who has been threatened ever since he covered the capture of Arnaldo “El Negro” Lobo, a drug trafficker, in March. When shots were fired at Menjivar two years ago, he reported it to the police but, if any investigation was carried out, it made no progress.