New York, March 29, 2010—The Committee to Protect Journalists urges Honduran authorities to fully investigate last week’s murders of two journalists, part of a month-long wave of lethal violence that has resulted in the slayings of five reporters over all and led to widespread self-censorship in the local media.
José Bayardo Mairena and Manuel Juárez, journalists for radio stations Excélsior and Super 10, were attacked Friday while driving from Catacamas and Juticalpa, in the province of Olancho, 75 miles (125 kilometers) north of Tegucigalpa. Around noon, unidentified gunmen in a vehicle pulled alongside the journalists’ car and fired at least 26 times, local press reports said. Mairena died at the scene, while Juárez was pronounced dead in a hospital in Juticalpa, according to local news outlets.
“We call on Honduran authorities to put an end to this unprecedented wave of violence against the press,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas. “These attacks are seriously restricting freedom of expression and undermine citizens’ right to be informed on issues of public interest.”
Mairena, 52, a veteran journalist, handled general assignments that included coverage of organized crime and a land dispute in the Aguán region, Omar Said Mejia, owner of Super 10, told CPJ. Juárez, 54, was a news presenter. Local authorities have not disclosed possible motives or identified any suspects, Honduran press reports said.
A wave of deadly violence has battered the Honduran media as five journalists have been killed this month. Unidentified attackers gunned down Honduran journalist Nahúm Palacios Arteaga in the city of Tocoa on March 14. On March 11, radio reporter David Meza was murdered in the city of La Ceiba, in the Atlantic coast, under similar circumstances. On March 1, reporter Joseph Hernández Ochoa was slain in Tegucigalpa in a shooting that left another journalist seriously wounded.
Investigators have not reported progress in any of the five cases, local press reports said. CPJ is investigating whether the killings were linked to the journalists’ work.