Another Honduran journalist has been killed, marking the second murder of a media worker in the Central American country this year.
Director of a local television program and congressional candidate in the upcoming general elections, Victor Funes was shot and killed early in the morning last Thursday outside his home in Ceiba, located on the north coast about 250 miles from the capital of Tegucigalpa.
According reports from local news broadcasts, the journalist parked his car outside and was walking up towards his house when a motorcyclist drove by and shot him at least two times.
Following his death, four teams of specialized police investigators were deployed. Police representative Julian Hernandez announced Thursday the arrest of Alvaro Euceda, a drug distributer known as “El Pajar,” who has also been identified as Edwin Reiniery Suazo Cruz.
The suspect confessed to killing Funes hours after the murder Thursday, saying he "had problems" with the journalist.
Funes worked as the host of a nightly news program on La Ceiba's Channel 45 television that ran from 10:00 to 11:30 p.m. local time. He was also a candidate for Congress with the governing National Party for the 2017 general elections, scheduled for Nov. 26. The National Party lamented the loss of a talented journalist and candidate and called on police officials to bring perpetrators justice.
“In the face of this crime, the National Party of Honduras demands the country's investigative authorities initiate in a quick and timely manner an investigative process that results in the capture of the intellectual and material authors of this deplorable act and impose the full weight of the law,” the party said in a statement.
Funes' murder follows the killing of another journalist earlier this year, TV producer Igor Padilla, who was shot dead in January in the financial capital of San Pedro Sula. According to a report released in May by the National Human Rights Commision in Honduras, at least 70 journalists have been killed in the country since 2001 and 91 percent of all those cases have gone unpunished.
Crimes against journalists in Honduras have seen a serious rise in recent years in the wake of the 2009 U.S.-backed military coup, with 28 journalists murdered in the country between 2010 and 2015 alone, according to the Inter-American Commision on Human Rights.
The human rights situation in Honduras has drastically deteriorated since the 2009 coup, and the country has become one of the most dangerous countries in the region for media workers, second only to Mexico.
Honduras was dubbed the “murder capital of the world” in the wake of the coup due to the numerous violations against journalists, lawyers, human rights activists, LGBTI individuals and other vulnerable groups, together with a generalized lawlessness and systemic impunity that has allowed attacks and threats of violence by drug cartels and gangs to become commonplace.
Government officials, pressured by human rights organizations, passed a law to institute a “protection system" for journalists in 2015. However, more than 38 journalists have petitioned for sanctuary and many are still awaiting a response.