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Minister insists no journalist was murdered in connection with their work in 2010

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders is outraged by deputy security minister Armando Calidonio's insistence during a TV appearance on 3 January 2011 that none of the ten murders of journalists in Honduras during 2010 was connected to the victim's work. "None of these murders is linked to the practice of journalism," he said. "It is highly improbable and I say so sincerely."

The minister's comment is an intolerable denial of reality. A probable or proven link to the victim's work as a journalist exists in three of the ten cases, none of which has yet been solved.

"In each murder of a journalist last year, the Honduran authorities systematically rejected any possibility of a link to their work, sometimes even before the police began investigating," Reporters Without Borders said. "The aim of such comments is to make people forget that the already high level of criminal violence was compounded by the violence stemming from the 2009 coup."

The Honduran Committee for Free Expression (C-Libre) meanwhile reports that Esdras López, of Canal 36-Cholusat, a TV station critical of the coup, was threatened on 5 January in Tegucigalpa by an army lieutenant-colonel identified as Méndez, who also photographed him.

One of the three journalists killed in 2010 in an apparent connection with his work, Nahum Palacios Arteaga, was gunned down after repeated harassment and threats from military personnel in the Aguán region, where there is a great deal of repression.

In his comments on 3 January, the deputy security minister also claimed that the government had "very good relations with the press." The next day, President Porfirio Lobo asked security minister Oscar Álvarez to do everything possible to solve these murders. According to national dailies, the government is planning to request help from Spain, Colombia and the United States.

"We understand why the president would want to make up for the deputy minister's comments but we hope that the statements of intent will be followed by action and that investigators will seriously consider the possibility of official involvement in some of these murders," Reporters Without Borders added.

Honduras has never acted on rulings by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights calling on it to protect opposition journalists who have received threats.

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