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Death squads threaten Radio Victoria journalists

(AMARC/IFEX) - 4 May 2011 - According to a release from the Ombudsman's Office of the Economic and Social Development Association (Asociación de Desarrollo Económico y Social, ADES), Radio Victoria and ADES Cabañas condemn the recent death threats against Radio Victoria journalists. The station is located in the Municipality of Victoria, Cabañas department, and had previously been the target of attacks because of its critical reporting on the impact of a mining operation by Pacific Rim, a Canadian company.

In the early morning of 30 April, a letter containing death threats was left under the door of the Radio Victoria offices. This occured despite the fact that the station has national police security officers stationed outside its offices from 4:00 p.m. until 8:00 a.m. every day. The letter said that the journalists had to leave the Cabañas community before 4 May or they would be killed.

On 2 May around 8:30 p.m., journalists Marixela Ramos and Pablo Ayala received five death threats via their cell phones, including one that mentioned Ramos's three-year-old daughter.

The people issuing the threats, known only as an "extermination group", told journalists Pablo Ayala, Oscar Beltrán and Manuel Navarrete that they had to leave the community by 4 May or they would be killed.

On 4 May around 8:00 p.m. Radio Victoria journalists received more threats on their cell phones.


These most recent threats follow earlier death threats against the staff of Radio Victoria, human rights defenders, and members of organizations providing support to community leaders. Threats of this nature have been received since 2006 and have been reported to the Attorney General. So far there is no indication as to who may be behind the threats.

Groups known as "death squads" acted with impunity during the civil war and were harbored by military and judicial authorities. As human rights such as freedom of expression and thought are coming to the fore, new methods of silencing human rights defenders are being developed.

AMARC condemns these death threats against Radio Victoria and demands that immediate action be taken to safeguard the lives of its journalists and their families. AMARC joins other organizations in calling on the Attorney General to urgently investigate and identify those responsible and bring them to justice, so as to eradicate this sort of terrorism that threatens fundamental human rights and freedoms.

In 2007, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights recommended that a set of precautionary measures be implemented to safeguard Radio Victoria. Unfortunately the Attorney General has neglected to implement these measures in a timely manner in order to help those journalists affected by the threats. AMARC calls on human rights organisations to take part in an urgent call to contact authorities.

(Please note this is an abridged translation.)

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