New York, August 6, 2012–Authorities in Honduras must immediately investigate the attack on the house of a radio journalist in the state of Yoro, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. José Encarnación Chinchilla López, a reporter for Radio Cadena Voces in the city of El Progreso, told reporters that he was certain he was the target of the attack, according to news reports.
Two men on a motorcycle shot at Chinchilla’s house at about 7:45 p.m. on Friday, according to news reports. Chinchilla’s 24-year-old son, who was outside the house with his brother and some friends, was injured, according to news reports. He remains hospitalized in stable condition, the reports said. The façade of the house was damaged by bullets, according to news reports.
A journalist at the station, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal, told CPJ that Chinchilla covers local issues in Yoro–in particular, the police, health, and education beats. The journalist said that Chinchilla suspected the attack might be in reprisal for a recent report he had broadcast about local gang activity. Chinchilla also said that he had recently covered a local land dispute and that he had received threats before Friday’s attack, news reports said.
Chinchilla told local journalists that he had survived two previous attempts on his life in 2009 and 2010, according to news reports.
“Honduran authorities must fully investigate this crime, determine the motive, and bring the perpetrators to justice,” said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. “Honduras has a terrible reputation as one of the deadliest places for journalists in the world. Officials must send a message that they will no longer tolerate attacks on the press. Journalists in Honduras must be able to report freely without fearing for their lives.”
The daily El Heraldo reported that Chinchilla filed a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission and planned to petition for political asylum in the United States.
Journalists with Radio Cadena Voces have been targeted in the past. RCV journalist Rafael Munguía Ortiz was killed in unclear circumstances in 2009, according to CPJ research. Two years prior, in 2007, Carlos Salgado was murdered after reporting on government corruption, CPJ research shows. That same year, the radio’s director, Dagoberto Rodríguez, fled the country with his family after his name appeared on a hit list.
A climate of violence and widespread impunity has made Honduras one of the most dangerous countries in the region, according to CPJ research. The government’s stance on media killings has worsened the situation. Authorities have minimized crimes against journalists and been slow and negligent in pursuing the culprits.
- For more data and analysis on Honduras, visit CPJ’s Honduras page here.