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Honduras: Local TV journalist gunned down in north

Héctor Francisco Medina Polanco, 35, the host of a news programme on provincial TV station Omega Visión, died in a hospital in the northern city of San Pedro Sula on May 11 from the gunshot injuries he had received the day before, Paris-based press freedom group Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) has reported.

Medina was shot twice in the chest and once in the arm by two men on a motorcycle who followed him to his home in Morazán, a town outside the nearby city of El Progreso. He was almost certainly killed in connection with his work as a journalist. In his TV programme, he often criticised irregularities in the Morazán municipal government and referred to land disputes involving the region’s cattle farmers.

The serious reprisals to which Honduran journalists are exposed when they dare to cover disputes over the use of farm land have been highlighted of late by the persecution of community radio stations Radio Faluma Bimetu (Radio Coco Dulce) and La Voz de Zacate Grande.

Medina had received threats as a result of the views he had expressed on agricultural issues. On May 3 (World Press Freedom Day), RSF added the powerful Honduran businessman landowner Miguel Facussé Barjum to its list of “Predators of Press Freedom.”

“It will be hard to celebrate National Day of the Journalist on May 25 if the persecution of community radio stations and news media opposed to the June 2009 coup d’état continues at the same frenetic pace, especially in the San Pedro Sula region, where there have been several cases in recent days,” RSF said.

“The rule of law continues to disintegrate. We are still awaiting results in the investigations into the 10 murders of journalists last year (in three of which there was a probable or proven link to the victim’s work). We hope it will not be the same with the investigation into this murder.

“While offering our condolences to Medina’s family and colleagues, we would like to issue a reminder of the three challenges Honduras must address: the fight against impunity for the murders of journalists and human rights activists, an overhaul of broadcasting and telecommunications legislation, and rendering justice in a transparent manner for the most serious abuses since the coup d’état.”

RSF said: “Honduras should not be readmitted to the Organization of American States (from which it was suspended after the coup), without offering anything at all in return.”

"Honduran authorities must thoroughly investigate Héctor Francisco Medina Polanco's murder and bring the perpetrators to justice," said Robert Mahoney of the New York-based press freedom group Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). "It is unacceptable that Medina Polanco had reported being threatened and was not given protection."

Date posted: May 12, 2011 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 87