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IAPA spearheads impunity project; journalists targeted across the region

Newspapers in the region are joining forces to fight impunity.
Newspapers in the region are joining forces to fight impunity.

via IAPA

Newspaper readers across the Americas are invited to join the Inter American Press Association (IAPA)'s campaign to demand justice in the cases of murdered journalists. A growing list of newspapers is participating in this online banner campaign to focus attention on killings that go unpunished in the region. Just this past week, several journalists and their families have been fatally targeted in three countries.

Last week in Honduras, a journalist's daughter was killed by mistake in an attempt to murder her mother, according to IAPA and the Comité por la Libre Expresión (C-Libre). Another journalist's son was murdered. Meanwhile, two journalists were also killed in Colombia and Brazil in unclear circumstances, report IFEX members.

"Let's Put an End to Impunity" is an IAPA initiative set up to bring Internet users directly to a new impunity website ( ) to add their names to a petition, which is sent to the president of a country where the case of a murdered journalist remains unsolved and perpetrators unpunished. Participating newspapers include: "El Nacional" in Venezuela; "Clarín" in Argentina; "El Imparcial", "Hermosillo and "El Universal" in Mexico; "Diario Las Américas" in the United States; and "La Prensa" in Honduras, among many others.

More than 350 murders of journalists in the Americas have not been brought to justice over the last two decades, says IAPA. In 2009 the killing has not ceased.

In Honduras, the 16-year-old daughter of television journalist Karol Cabrera was shot to death while driving in the capital Tegucigalpa on 15 December, reports C-Libre. She was eight months pregnant. The deadly attack was believed to be directed at her mother. According to C-Libre, the police received an anonymous phone call that said, "Sorry, that wasn't the right person who was shot."

Cabrera hosts programmes on the privately owned Canal 54 and state-run Canal 8 television stations and the privately owned radio station Radio Cadena Voces in Tegucigalpa. IAPA and C-Libre report that Cabrera - and her station - is a supporter of the Roberto Micheletti regime, which tried to link the murder with supporters of the ousted President. That same week, C-Libre reports that the son of another journalist, Edwin Orlando Canaca, was murdered. The circumstances were not reported.

Also last week, on 14 December, Brazilian businessman and radio journalist José Givonaldo Vieira was shot dead after arriving at his offices at Bezerros FM, report the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), IAPA and Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The programme he presented, "Bezerros Comunidade", criticised local authorities, but the motive has not been established. The Associaçao Brasileira de Jornalismo Investigativo (ABRAJI) is still investigating any connection between the murder and the journalist's work.

In addition, in Colombia, journalist Hárold Humberto Rivas Quevedo was shot to death on 16 December, report the Fundación para la Libertad de Prensa (FLIP) and other IFEX members. Rivas Quevedo was the host of a political commentary show on local television and a sports commentator for local radio. He was critical of civic problems but avoided sensitive issues and did not directly challenge authorities, says CPJ.

"The murder motive has yet to be established but we urge the authorities not to rule out the possibility that it was linked to the victim's work as a journalist," says RSF. "In a country torn by an endless civil war, community journalists, who often work in the worst-hit areas, are in the front line. The political discussion programme Rivas hosted could have exposed him to reprisals."

IAPA's impunity project includes training reporters to reduce risks taken in covering news, monitoring press freedom, and advocating for justice and legal action to fight impunity.

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