Police officers stand guard in Tegucigalpa, Honduras in April 2022. On May 26, an unidentified person shot and killed camera operator and TV host Ricardo Ávila in southwest Honduras. (Fredy Rodriguez/Reuters)

Camera operator and TV host Ricardo Ávila shot, killed in southwest Honduras

Guatemala City, June 2, 2022 — Honduran authorities must conduct a credible and exhaustive investigation into the killing of camera operator and TV host Ricardo Alcides Ávila in southwest Honduras and bring those responsible to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Thursday.

Around 5 a.m. on May 26, an unidentified person shot Ávila in the head while the journalist rode his motorcycle in Santa Cruz village near the department capital Choluteca, according to a report by C-Libre, a Honduran freedom of expression group. Ávila was taken to a hospital in the capital city Tegucigalpa where he died on May 29, according to a report by the U.S. Congress-funded broadcaster Voice of America.

C-Libre director Amada Ordoñez disputed the Honduran police comment that Ávila had been the victim of a robbery, telling CPJ by phone that the journalist’s belongings, including his money, cellphone, and motorcycle, were found with him, and adding that “C-Libre has confirmed that it was not a common robbery.”

“Honduran authorities should thoroughly investigate the killing of cameraman and TV host Ricardo Ávila and determine if he was attacked for his journalism,” said Carlos Martinez de la Serna, CPJ’s program director, in New York. “Honduras must end the pervasive impunity for the killings of journalists and conduct a thorough investigation to bring the killer to justice.”

Ávila, 25, worked as a camera operator and hosted a weekend news show for local independent station Metro TV. He covered social movements in Choluteca and protests against controversial economic development zones, known as ZEDEs, Ordoñez told CPJ. Metro TV is the only local outlet to cover these protests, Ordoñez said, adding that C-Libre believes the attack was in retaliation for Ávila’s reporting on these topics.

Since 1992, at least eight journalists in Honduras have been murdered in connection with their work, according to CPJ research. CPJ is investigating 27 additional cases to determine whether their deaths had any connection with their reporting.

CPJ messaged the Honduran security minister via a messaging app and messaged Metro TV on social media but did not receive any replies.

Editor’s note: The title of Carlos Martinez de la Serna has been corrected in the fourth paragraph.