Ottawa condemns Honduran killing – what about others?

Apparently reacting to the killing of television news editor Nahúm Palacios Artiaga, the Canadian government has condemned violence against journalists in Honduras.

Nahúm Palacios Artiaga was shot and killed on Sunday, March 14, while riding in a car in Tocoa, Colón, HondurasWeekly reported.

“Canada condemns the recent series of murders of journalists in Honduras,” said Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Americas) Peter Kent in a statement. “Violence against journalists constitutes an attack on the basic principles of freedom of the press and freedom of expression. It is particularly troubling in a country that recently emerged from a long political impasse and is now trying to achieve national reconciliation. We extend our sincere condolences to the families and friends of the victims.

“Canada calls on the Honduran authorities to promptly and thoroughly investigate these crimes and prosecute those responsible. Canada also urges the Honduran government to take all necessary measures to guarantee freedom of the press and freedom of expression.”

This murder brings the number of journalists killed in Honduras this year to three.

While welcoming the statement, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) said the Canadian government should have spoken out against widespread free expression violations in Honduras during the coup there last June, including an earlier attack on Nahúm Palacios Artiaga.

And the government could say more about violence against journalists in other countries, notably Mexico and Colombia, CJFE said.

“We welcome the Canadian government’s recognition that violence against journalists constitutes an attack on freedom of expression,” says CJFE Board member and journalist Bob Carty in a CJFE statement. “But we are concerned that Canada failed to criticise wide-spread free expression violations last June during the Honduran coup, including an earlier attack on Nahúm Palacios Artiaga.”

Carty also points out that this awareness must extend further. “These are not just isolated killings, but a sign of a more extensive problem that sees freedom of expression under attack in a number of countries in the Americas.” Journalists in Mexico are being abducted and killed with impunity. In Colombia, journalists are illegally wiretapped and monitored by the government and other violations are also on the rise.

The Associated Press reported that Evaristo Pacheco, a 33-year-old reporter for the regional weekly Vision Informativa in southern Mexico, was shot to death March 12. He was the fourth journalist killed in Mexico so far this year, AP said. Reporters Without Borders criticized the Mexican government’s Special Federal Attorney’s Office for Combating Violence against the Media (FEADP), saying it has obtained no significant results in its four years in operation.

The International News Safety Institute rated Mexico the second worst country for journalist killings in 2009 with 11 killings, second to the Philippines with 37. According to INSI, 13 journalists have been killed worldwide so far this year.