U.N. agency urges Honduras to probe journalist killings

The head of the United Nations agency that works to defend press freedom spoke out Wednesday at the recent slayings of another two journalists in Honduras, where at least a dozen reporters have been killed in the past 18 months.

Nery Jeremías Orellana, who served as manager of Radio Joconguera and as a correspondent for Radio Progreso, was gunned down July 14, the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization reported. The 26-year-old had also been a member of an opposition movement.

Adan Benítez, a 42-year-old reporter for 45TV and Teleceiba Canal 7, was in the northern port city of La Ceiba on July 4 when he was shot in the head by two gunmen who also robbed him.

In a statement, the U.N. agency’s director general, Irina Bokova, called for a thorough investigation into the killings of both Orellana and Benitez.

“The killing of journalists constitutes a crime against society as a whole,” she said. “Democracy and rule of law require a free and independent press to nourish informed debate. I call on the authorities to conduct a thorough investigation of these crimes to ensure that everyone in the country is free to exercise their fundamental human right of freedom of expression without fearing for their lives.”

The U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, which began work in 1946, is specifically mandated to defend freedom of expression and press freedom.

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