Washington, D.C., April 15, 2014 – The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the murder of radio worker Carlos Hilario Mejía Orellana which took place on April 11 in Honduras. He was a beneficiary of precautionary measures granted by the Commission on May 27, 2011. The Office of the Special Rapporteur expresses its deep concern and urges the Honduran authorities to act urgently to establish the motive of this crime and to investigate, prosecute and punish the perpetrators and masterminds responsible for this murder.
According to the information received, Carlos Mejía Orellana was killed by several stab wounds while in his home in the city El Progreso, department of Yoro, Honduras. Mejía Orellana was a worker with Radio Progreso. The outlet’s premises had been searched in 2009. Since then, some of its journalists and its director had been subjected to threats and harassment related to their defense of human rights in the exercise of their right of freedom of expression. The Inter-American Commission granted precautionary measures to Mejía Orellana in 2011 and requested the State to make every effort to protect his life and personal integrity.
The IACHR and its Office of the Special Rapporteur consider this a particularly serious crime given the precautionary measures granted.
It is essential for the Honduran State to clarify as soon as possible the motive for this crime; identify, prosecute, and punish those responsible; and adopt fair measures of reparation for the victim’s family. The Office of the Special Rapporteur insists that the State needs to create special investigative bodies and protocols, as well as protection mechanisms designed to ensure the integrity of those who are being threatened because of the exercise of their professional activity. Particularly, it is urgent to take all measures to ensure proper implementation of the precautionary measures granted.
In light of the series of murders committed against journalists in Honduras since 2009, it is critical that the State carry out a complete, effective, and impartial investigation of these crimes, which have a negative impact on all of Honduran society.
The ninth principle of the IACHR Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression states: “The murder, kidnapping, intimidation of and/or threats to social communicators, as well as the material destruction of communications media violate the fundamental rights of individuals and strongly restrict freedom of expression. It is the duty of the state to prevent and investigate such occurrences, to punish their perpetrators and to ensure that victims receive due compensation.”
The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression was created by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to encourage the defense of the right to freedom of thought and expression in the hemisphere, given the fundamental role this right plays in consolidating and developing the democratic system.