[Translation of an article by Agence France Presse as published in Diario Tiempo of San Pedro Sula on May 8. See original here.]
Tegucigalpa – The assassination in Honduras of journalist Erick Martínez, who was a spokesman for homosexual groups and a congressional candidate for the Left, has reawakened anger in the most violent country in the world, where 18 other murders of journalists remain unpunished.
The body of the 32-year-old journalist, an activist with the Libertad y Refundación party (Libre, the leftist party of former President Manual Zelaya [and the electoral arm of the Frente Nacional de Resistencia Popular]), was found on a highway outside the capital on Monday night with indications he had been strangled.
“The results of the criminal investigations are blank pages; there is no interest in investigating, there is an institutional weakness and a lack of responsibility in the exercise of public duty,” government Human Rights Commissioner Ramón Custodio told AFP.
The death of Martínez Ávila makes a total of 19 journalists assassinated in Honduras since the 2009 coup against Zelaya and, according to Custodio, 27 people connected with the communications media have been killed since 2003.
The Commission office also records the assassinations in two years of 20 members of the Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transsexual community in this country, which, according to United Nations statistics, is the most violent in the world, with a total of 86 homicides for every 100,000 inhabitants. In comments to AFP, Ana Pineda, minister of justice and human rights, called on “the prosecutor and the police to carry out investigations to discover those responsible and take them to court.”
“As a Honduran citizen, as a mother, as an activist in Libre and in the name of all the thousands and thousands of people who yearn for peace, I condemn energetically the cowardly murder of Erick, a joyful, enthusiastic, talented young man, a seed of liberty,” said Xiomara Castro, wife of Zelaya and presidential candidate for the November primary elections.
“It is with enormous concern that we see that there is very little or almost no investigation into the cases of the deaths of our colleagues,” Juan Ramón Mairena, president of the Colegio de Periodistas de Honduras, recently told AFP.
The authorities “have told us there are four cases (of assassinated journalists) that have been investigated but they have not been taken to court and nobody is in jail for them. They tell us they died not for exercising their professions but for other reasons, but they don’t give any evidence,” Mairena denounced.