Two journalists killed in Honduras, bringing media death toll in March to five
The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, today condemned the killing of radio journalists José Bayardo Mairena and Manuel Juárez who were ambushed by gunmen on 26 March in eastern Honduras.
"I condemn the murders of radio journalists José Bayardo Mairena and Manuel Juárez," said Ms Bokova. "Such despicable crimes against media professionals undermine the fundamental right of freedom of information, cornerstone of a democratic society. Five journalists have been killed in Honduras this year. I call on the Honduran authorities to make every possible effort to arrest the perpetrators and put an end to this unprecedented and intolerable wave of violence."
According to press reports, Mr Mairena and Mr Juárez were ambushed near Juticalpa, in the eastern province of Olancho, as they were driving back from hosting a radio programme in Catacamas. Unidentified armed men sprayed their car with bullets. Both journalists worked for the radio stations Excélsior and Super 10.
Their deaths bring the number of journalists murdered in Honduras since 1 March to five. The other victims were journalist Nahúm Palacios Arteaga in Tocoa on 14 March; radio reporter David Meza on 11 March in La Ceiba; and, on March 1, reporter Joseph Hernández Ochoa in Tegucigalpa, in a shooting that left another journalist seriously wounded.
The international NGO Reporters Without Borders noted that Honduras and Mexico now rank as "the western hemisphere's two deadliest countries by far for journalists in 2010."
UNESCO is the only United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. Article 1 of its Constitution requires the Organization to "further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations." To realize this the Organization is requested to "collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image..."
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