Category: Press Releases, The Americas, Honduras, Mexico, Asia, Philippines, Africa, Somalia
By: Naumi Hunt, Press Freedom Adviser for Africa and the Middle East

Six Journalists Killed Since the Start of May

Now Is the Time to End Impunity, Says IPI


A masked Filipino artist holds up a replica of a burning weighing scale signifying justice to commemorate the 2nd year anniversary of the "Maguindanao Massacre" at the National Press Club compound in Manila Nov. 23, 2011. The powerful political Ampatuan clan was accused of masterminding the killing of 57 people, including more than 30 journalists, in Maguindanao, southern Philippines on Nov. 23, 2009. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

By: Naumi Hunt, Press Freedom Adviser for Africa and the Middle East

VIENNA, May 9, 2012 – Almost every day this month, another journalist has been murdered, according to theOpens internal link in current window IPI Death Watch and news reports. Six journalists lost their lives in May, all in countries where those who murder to silence the media are rarely punished.

The most recent victim was Philippine journalist Nestor Libaton, a news reporter for the Catholic dxHM radio in Mati City in Davao Oriental province, who was reportedly killed by gunmen at approximately 2 pm on May 8 in Mati City.

According to The Mindanao Examiner, Libaton was riding on a motorcycle driven by his colleague, Eldon Cruz, when he was attacked. Cruz was reportedly unhurt in the shooting.

It was not clear at the time of writing why Libaton had been targeted. 

The body of Honduran journalist Erik Martinez Ávila, who went missing on Saturday, May 5, was found on Monday evening with signs of strangulation on a road in the outskirts of the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa, reports say.

Martinez, who was also a vocal supporter of a gay rights group and a candidate for the left-wing opposition party, Libertad y Refundación (Freedom and Refoundation), is the third journalist to be killed this year in Honduras, one of the most dangerous countries for journalists.

Erick Martinez studied journalism and worked in radio and TV, but after obtaining his journalism degree, he began working with the gay rights group Asociación Kukulcán, according to a report on the website of La Prensa. He is the third journalist to be killed in Honduras this year. According to the IPI DeathWatch, 20 journalists have been killed in Honduras since the June 28, 2009 coup that deposed former President Jose Manuel Zelaya.

“We send our condolences to the family and colleagues of Nestor Libaton and Erik Martinez Avila, the journalists most recently killed this month,” said IPI Executive Director Alison Bethel McKenzie. “The authorities in the Philippines, Honduras, Mexico and Somalia should be aware that these are among the deadliest countries in the world, and that it is the responsibility of government to end impunity.” 

In Mexico, unknown gunmen fired several gunshots at the building of the newspaper Hora Cero in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, on Monday, May 7 at about 1:00 p.m. local time, reports say. According to local and international news reports, the employees of the newspapers received a telephone call warning them of the imminent attack and immediately evacuated the building. No one was hurt in the attack. 

As IPI previously reported, the dismembered bodies of three Mexican journalists were found dumped in a canal in Boca del Rio, Veracruz, on 3 May, World Press Freedom Day. The three were: Guillermo Luna Varela, a crime photographer for the website Veracruznews; Gabriel Huge Córdova, a photojournalist who previously worked for Notiver; and Esteban Rodríguez Rodríguez, formerly of the news website AZ and TV Azteca.  A fourth body was identified as Irasema Becerra, Luna’s girlfriend and an administrative assistant at El Dictamen de Veracruz newspaper.

Reports indicate that all three journalists had temporarily fled Veracruz last summer following the murders of two Notiver journalists.  Huge Córdova had recently returned to work as a freelancer for Veracruznews, while Rodríguez was reportedly working as a welder in an auto shop.

The first journalist killed in May, Farhan Jeemis Abdulle, was a newscaster at Daljir radio and a reporter for SIMBA radio in Somalia’s autonomous Puntland region.  The reason for the shooting on May 2 was unknown.


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