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Gang members kill 23-year-old radio journalist in El Salvador

Graffiti associated with the Mara Salvatrucha gang in the Montreal neighborhood in Mejicanos, El Salvador
Graffiti associated with the Mara Salvatrucha gang in the Montreal neighborhood in Mejicanos, El Salvador

REUTERS/Jose Cabezas

This statement was originally published on rsf.org on 23 March 2016.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns young community radio host Nicolás García's gruesome murder by members of the Mara Salvatrucha gang on the night of 10 March in El Carrizal, a village in the western department of Ahuachapán. Working as a journalist is very dangerous in El Salvador because of the alarming level of violence.

For the past several months, García, 23, had been hosting a programme on El Carrizal-based radio Expressa, voces al aire in which he advised local residents on how to protect themselves from violence and interviewed members of the Civilian National Police (PNC).

Local members of the Mara Salvatrucha gang did not like the programme. After many threats, they began suggesting that he join the gang and provide them with information about police movements in El Carrizal in exchange for 100 dollars a month.

García's refusal cost him his life. His mutilated body was found riddled with bullets and with his tongue cut out.

“We are deeply shocked by this barbaric crime and we call on the Salvadorean authorities to identify those responsible and bring them to trial,” said Emmanuel Colombié, the head of RSF's Americas desk. “In response to these acts of violence by organized crime, the government has a duty to provide journalists with effective protection.”

RSF supports the call by the El Salvador Journalists' Association (APES) and the Association of Participative Radio Stations and Programmes (ARPAS) for the swift adoption of a law that would protect journalists.

The high level of violent crime has a big impact on media personnel in El Salvador. At the same time, freedom of information has declined since Salvador Sánchez Cerén was installed as president in June 2014. His government is hostile towards the media and neither protects journalists nor promotes their work.

El Salvador is ranked 45th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2015 World Press Freedom Index.

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