Provincial TV news host gunned down in Honduras

New York, May 11, 2011–The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the killing of provincial television journalist Héctor Francisco Medina Polanco in Honduras and calls on local authorities to thoroughly investigate the murder. 

According to news reports, Medina Polanco was shot around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday outside his home in Morazán in the northern department of Yoro. He died today from related complications at a municipal hospital in San Pedro Sula. The journalist, who produced and hosted the TV9 news program for the local cable company Omega Visión, was on his motorcycle returning home from work when he was shot in the arm and the back by two unidentified assailants also on motorcycle who had been following him, according to CPJ interviews and press reports.

According to Tegucigalpa-based El Heraldo, Medina Polanco had reported on corruption in the local mayor’s office and on regional land disputes. The journalist’s brother, Carlos Alberto Medina Polanco, told CPJ that Medina Polanco had been threatened several times over the past six months. El Heraldo reported that the journalist had reported threats to the local authorities. He also worked for governmental education project, his brother said.

“Honduran authorities must thoroughly investigate Héctor Francisco Medina Polanco’s murder and bring the perpetrators to justice,” said CPJ’s deputy director, Robert Mahoney. “It is unacceptable that Medina Polanco had reported being threatened and was not given protection.”

CPJ has recorded a string of recent attacks on journalists throughout the country. In April, director of San Pedro Sula-based Radio Uno Arnulfo Aguilar was ambushed by a group of armed men outside his home. In March, at least seven journalists covering a weeks-long teachers’ protest faced harassment, attack, and detention, CPJ found. Earlier that month, Radio Voz de Zacate Grande director Fanklin Mendez was shot in the leg over the station’s critical coverage of land disputes in the area. 

Nine other Honduran journalists to have been murdered since March 2010, at least three in direct reprisal for their work, CPJ research shows.