On December 21, 2023, unidentified individuals fatally shot local television journalist Francisco Javier Ramírez in Danlí, a city in southwestern Honduras, according to news outlets and the Honduran free expression advocacy group C-Libre.
According to a report by the French news agency AFP and a Honduran police report reviewed by CPJ, Ramírez, who had police protection, was accompanied by police officer Walter Colindres, who sustained injuries in the assault. The police report stated that the journalist and the police officer “went out to eat at around 7:30 and stayed in a local restaurant for about two hours.” When they left, they were intercepted by individuals driving in several vehicles, who shot at them, the report said.
Danlí police chief Lisandro García Muñoz told Honduran TV channel HCH that the National Police received a report at 10:30 p.m. on December 21 that there was a dead person inside a vehicle.
On January 25, Security Minister Gustavo Sanchez announced the apprehension of the alleged perpetrator of the murder, Cesar Alfredo Blanco Rivera, according to a report from the Honduran news website La Prensa. The national police told CPJ via email that they are actively conducting raids and searching for information to identify the masterminds.
Ramírez worked at Danlí’s cable television Channel 24 and was a well-known journalist in that part of the country, having worked for 15 years in local media, first as a camera operator and then as a reporter covering local news, according to another report by HCH TV. Ramírez also worked as a driver for the Honduran Prosecutor’s office in Danlí.
Amada Ponce, the head of Honduras’ Committee for Free Expression (C-Libre), told AFP that this was a targeted killing rooted in his journalistic work.
Ramírez survived a prior attack on May 3, 2023, by two men identified by police as Cristian Anthony Colindres and Ronal David Ramírez, who shot him near his house in Danlí. according to a report by Honduran newspaper El Heraldo, he was shot three times but survived, according to AFP’s report. The two men were captured by police and prosecuted for the crime of attempted homicide.
El Heraldo’s report said that after the May attack, Ramírez was awaiting approval of a request for political asylum far from Danlí. C-Libre also reported the journalist had sought refuge under the protection of the Norwegian Refugee Council in Honduras and received protection for six months. However, Ramírez expressed concerns to C-Libre that the council’s protections were not sufficient, and about two months ago he was placed under the Honduran government’s Protection Mechanism of the Secretariat for Human Rights (SEDH) and assigned a police escort.
C-Libre also said the journalist requested additional security through the National Police, but it was denied by the Secretariat of Security.