Radio journalist Alfredo Villatoro, kidnapped on his way to work last week, was found dead yesterday on the outskirts of Tegucigalpa six days after his abduction.
“With the death of Erick Martinez on 5 May and that of Alfredo Villatoro, journalism has lost two of its members in the space of 10 days, while at the same time threats, attacks and assaults remain an almost daily reality for journalists,” Reporters Without Borders said.
“Against this background, where common crime, the activities of criminal gangs and political violence undermine national security and basic public freedoms, no attempt to combat impunity can succeed without wide-ranging reform of the judicial system involving civil society and international observers. It is a daunting challenge but one that cannot be put off any longer.”
Villatoro, programme co-ordinator and presenter at the radio station HRN, was shot twice in the head and his body had been dressed in the uniform of an officer of the police, which is widely suspected of being behind serious breaches of human rights.
Shortly before the grim discovery, Honduran President Porfirio Lobo made reference to clues that the journalist was still alive. This was later denied by the security minister, Pompeyo Bonilla.
The death brings to 26 the number of journalists killed in Honduras in the past decade, 20 of them in the period immediately after the June 2009 coup d’état. Honduras, together with Mexico and Colombia, is among the most dangerous countries in the hemisphere for journalists.