Senior UN official urges action amid rise in violence against Honduran press

30 August 2010

The recent murder of a radio journalist in Honduras brings to nine the number of media professionals killed there so far this year, and prompted a senior United Nations official to call for urgent action to stem the rise in violence against members of the press.

Irina Bokova, the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), condemned the murder of Israel Zelaya Diaz, a reporter for Radio Internacional in San Pedro Sula, the country’s second largest city.

The 62-year-old radio journalist, known as Zagatay, reported on a variety of local topics, including politics and crime. He was found shot to death on the edge of a sugarcane field near the city on 24 August.

He is the ninth journalist killed in Honduras this year, according to Reporters Without Borders and the International Press Institute.

“It is vital that this crime be investigated thoroughly, just as every effort should be made to end the violence and intimidation targeting journalists in Honduras,” Ms. Bokova stated in a news release.

“It is the duty of the authorities to see that the basic human right of freedom of expression is recognized.”

Ms. Bokova has also condemned the 11 August murder of Magomedvagif (Sultan) Sultanmagomedov, the editor-in-chief of the television station Makhachkala-TV in the Russian republic of Dagestan.

Mr. Sultanmagomedov, who had escaped a previous attempt on his life in 2008, died of gunshot wounds after the car he was travelling in came under submachine-gun fire in central Makhachkala.

“The killing of a journalist constitutes an attack against freedom of expression, a fundamental human right. Furthermore, it is an attack on our freedom as citizens to be informed and to participate in the democratic process.

“I call on authorities to do their utmost to ensure that the ongoing investigation solves this crime,” said Ms. Bokova.

Mr. Sultanmagomedov took over as Makhachkala-TV editor after his predecessor, Abdullah Alishayev, was shot and killed in September 2008. The murder follows those last May near Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, of Shamil Aliyev, head of radio stations and a television network, and Sayid Ibragimov, director of a local television channel, as well as four technicians who had gone to the site of a sabotaged television relay station.


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