Fifty four year old Gabriel Hernandez became the first reporter this year to be killed in Honduras, a country known for high rates of homicides and impunity.
A Honduran journalist was shot to death Sunday in southern Honduras, making 54-year-old Gabriel Hernandez the country’s first reporter to be killed in 2019.
Gunned down outside his home in the city of Nacaome located south of the capital of Tegucigalpa, the reporter worked for Canal Valle TV where he was an opinion reporter and Radio Globo that is broadcast in the capital.
National Police told EFE that Hernandez was walking into his home when he was stopped by a gunman who then shot the journalist several times, leaving him "seriously wounded."
The wounded was taken to a hospital in Nacaome where he died of his injuries. There is no word yet on why Hernandez may have been shot.
According to the National Commissioner for Human Rights in Honduras (Conadeh), 75 journalist were murdered between 2001 and 2018 in Honduras. The human rights organization said in February that of the 229 journalists and lawyers murdered during that same time, more than 90 percent of the cases are still unpunished. The same impunity rate exists for the over 6,200 women killed during those years.
Impunity is a problem that "especially affects the most disadvantaged, social peace and frustrates the expectations and opportunities for justice and development in the country," Conadeh director, Roberto Herrera, told local reporters last month.
Journalists, along with human rights defenders and lawyers have faced increased threats and risks of doing their job since the 2009 overthrow of elected President Manuel Zelaya. Sixty 62 journalists were killed in Honduras between 2006 and 2017, according to the Latin American Federation of Journalists, but only two of these killings occurred prior to 2009.
A 2017 report by the U.S. Department of State says that journalists often “self-censored due to fear of retaliation from organized crime or corrupt government officials” as they face continual threats and harassment by gangs and authorities alike.
The 2018 Honduran murder rate averaged ten deaths per day. That number has since spiked to 13 during the first two months of this year, according to the Observatory of Violence of the National Autonomous University.