Third Honduran journalist gunned down in two weeks

Unidentified gunmen killed Honduran journalist Nahúm Palacios Arteaga in the city of Tocoa on the night of March 14—the third deadly attack against the Honduran press in the last two weeks. Palacios, 34, a journalist for Channel 5 TV and Radio Tocoa in the Atlantic region, was driving home when two cars pulled alongside his vehicle. At least two unidentified individuals fired several times with AK-47 assault rifles,, according to Honduran press accounts. The journalist died at the scene, while a companion seated next to him was severely wounded.

Palacios had reported on drug trafficking, violence, local politics, and an agrarian conflict between landowners and peasants in the Aguán region, according to Meri Agurcia, a researcher for the local human rights group Comité de Familiares Detenidos-Desaparecidos en Honduras. Palacios had received recent, anonymous death threats, according to the Honduran press and CPJ sources.

In June 2009, Palacios had been threatened by members of the military for his critical coverage of the coup that ousted President Manuel Zelaya, according to Agurcia and local news reports. The journalist’s home and office were raided and his equipment confiscated in an effort to intimidate him, press reports said.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), an autonomous body of the Organization of American States, urged the Honduran government in July 2009 to provide protection for Palacios based on the threats and harassment, local press reports said. Honduran authorities, however, didn’t implement the measures recommended by IACHR. In a press release after Palacios’ death, the IACHR noted the Honduran government’s failure to carry out measures to protect Palacios.

Honduras is becoming an increasingly dangerous place for journalists. On March 11, radio reporter David Meza was murdered in the city of La Ceiba, under similar circumstances. On March 1, reporter Joseph Hernández Ochoa was slain in Tegucigalpa in a shooting that left another journalist seriously wounded. The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists is investigating whether the killings are linked to the journalists’ work. (CPJ, March 17)

See our last post on Honduras.

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