Sr.Julián Pacheco Tinoco, Minister of Security of Honduras
Sr.Óscar Fernando Chinchilla Banegas, Attorney General of Honduras
January 25, 2018
Dear Minister Pacheco and Attorney General Chinchilla:
We are outraged that journalists continue being attacked and killed. On January 17, Honduran television reporter Igor Abisaí Padilla Chávez was shot and killed by four unidentified assailants in the Suyapa neighborhood of San Pedro Sula, Cortés Department. Only a few days ago we wrote of the recent violent crackdown by the Honduran military against journalists who were covering a demonstration by members of the Opposition Alliance in Tegucigalpa on January 12 (cf our letter of Jan 22).
Honduran news reports said that Padilla received a call from a woman who asked him to step outside while he was filming a commercial at a local store. When Padilla went outside, four armed assailants shot him repeatedly. He was rushed to a local private clinic, where doctors pronounced him dead.
Padilla, 38, covered general news and crime for the television station HCH (Hable como Habla, or "Speak as You Speak"). The daily newspaper La Tribuna characterized Padilla as being highly critical of the government and of local authorities. Ricardo Castro, the director of the Technical Agency for Criminal Investigation called the assassination "very planned." The newspaper La Prensa cited friends of the slain journalist as saying that the reporter had received a written death threat before the attack.
It is reported that police have arrested 18 suspects they alleged were part of the criminal gang Barrio 18 on suspicion of involvement in the murder of Igor Abisaí Padilla Chávez, but offered no possible motive.
The assassination of Igor Abisaí Padilla Chávez, and the attacks on journalists on January 12, are violations of the Declaration of Principles of Freedom of Expression and also of the American Convention on Human Rights, which states that "...the murder, kidnapping, intimidation, threats to social communicators…restricts the freedom of expression. It is the duty of the [member] States to prevent and investigate these facts, to punish their perpetrators and to assure the victims an adequate reparation."
Please work to end impunity for crimes targeting journalists. We strongly urge you to:
- credibly investigate the assassination of Igor Abisaí Padilla Chávez, publish the results, and bring those responsible to justice
- protect the safety and journalistic freedom of members of the press covering the political situation in Honduras
Christine Stonebraker-Martínez and Brian J. Stefan-Szittai
Co-coordinators, InterReligious Task Force on Central America and Colombia
Marlon R. Tábora Muñoz, Ambassador of Honduras to the US ~ via website, fax and US mail
Heide B. Fulton, Chargé d’Affaires, US Embassy in Honduras ~ via email
Jason Smith, Human Rights and Labor Representative, US Embassy in Honduras ~ via email
Olivia Franken, Honduras Desk, US State Dept ~ via email
Joel Hernández, Rapporteur for Honduras, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ~ via email
Edison Lanza, Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ~ via email
US Senators Brown & Portman ~ via email
US Representatives Beatty, Fudge, Gibbs, Johnson, Jordan, Joyce, Kaptur, Latta, Renacci, Ryan ~ via email