Critical Honduran reporter survives shooting attack

New York, September 16, 2010–Honduran authorities must fully investigate an attempted shooting on Tuesday of journalist Luis Galdámez Álvarez, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Unidentified gunmen in the capital, Tegucigalpa, shot at Galdámez outside his home, he told CPJ. Galdámez was uninjured.

Galdámez, a reporter for the national broadcaster Radio Globo and Globo TV, was going into his house in the neighborhood of Villa Centroamericana around 11:30 p.m. when unidentified gunmen hiding behind bushes fired at him at least eight times, the journalist told CPJ. Galdámez and his son fired back at the assailants, the press said. The reporter said he and his son purchased guns after unidentified men shot him in his car in 2005.

Local authorities have not yet identified any suspects or possible motives for the attack, the journalist said.

Galdámez said he has been receiving death threats since the Honduran military ousted President Manuel Zelaya in June 2009. He is widely known for his criticism of the coup and the government of President Porfirio Lobo, and regularly reports on government corruption and human rights abuses allegedly committed by law enforcement during his news program “Seeking the Truth” (Tras la Verdad), the news director of Radio Globo David Romero told CPJ.

“We condemn the attack against Luis Galdámez and urge authorities to fully investigate the incident and bring those responsible to justice,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas. “It is time for the Honduran government to put an end to this wave of violence, which is endangering the press and affecting citizens’ right to freedom of expression.”

Radio Globo has also been the target of serious attacks and multiple broadcasting disruptions. On September 28, 2009, during the interim government of Roberto Micheletti, the station was forced off the air after security forces raided their offices and confiscated equipment. It returned to the air on October 20.

The Washington-based Inter-American Commission of Human Rights ordered the Honduran government to provide Galdámez protection in July 2009 after repeated threats. Honduran authorities never enforced the order, the reporter said. “Those orders coming from Inter-American Commission don’t mean anything in Honduras,” he said.

Eight journalists have been killed since March in Honduras–at least three in direct reprisal for their work, CPJ research shows. In July, a CPJ special report found a pattern of botched and negligent investigative work into the killings.