Honduran media employee killed after having requested police protection for years

By Alejandro Martínez

Carlos Mejía Orellana, an employee with Honduran radio station Radio Progreso, was stabbed and killed in the municipality of El Progreso on April 11, Reporters Without Borders informed.

Mejía, 35, had just returned home when he was attacked. The identity of his attacker remains unknown.

Radio Progreso was one of the media outlets that opposed the 2009 coup d'etat that deposed then-President Manuel Zelaya. Since then, several employees have received death threats, including Mejía, who had worked at the station for more than 10 years. The Inter American Commission on Human Rights (ICHR) called on the Honduran government to grant cautionary measures to Mejía in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

The radio station's director Ismael Moreno accused authorities of ignoring the requests for protection despite indications that Mejía's life was in danger.

"This bloody crime is a direct attack not only on the life of our colleague, but a frontal attack on the work produced by Radio Progreso. We request that authorities do not let this crime remain in impunity and that they investigate until they find the attacker," the radio station said.

RSF also criticized the country's authorities for having failed to follow the ICHR's recommendations and said Mejía's occupation should be considered as a possible mobile for the crime.

“Although a motive has not yet been established, the police have already said they think it might have been a crime of passion. We ask them not to rule out a possible link to the victim’s work right from the outset,” said Camille Soulier, the head of RSF's Americas desk.

The organization also called for the creation of a Protection Mechanism for the journalists in the country, which continues to be one of the most dangerous places for members of the press in the world. RSF ranked Honduras in the 129th position out of 180 countries analyzed in the 2014 edition of its Press Freedom Index. A recent report from Honduras' National Committee on Human Rights found that there were more than 100 attacks and threats against journalists between 2010 and 2013.

In an attempt to pressure Canada to request improvements in Honduras' human rights record before signing a free trade agreement between the two countries, last week Mexican writer Álvaro Enrigue read the names of 32 Honduran journalists killed in the last decade during a recent ICHR session in Washington, D.C.

* Janelle Matous, a student in the class "Journalism in Latin America" at the University of Texas at Austin, contributed to this post.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.