The Declining Freedom of Expression Situation in Honduras

Conditions for freedom of expression and journalists’ freedoms in Honduras have been in a state of decline following the military backed coup of 28 June 2009 during which former President Manuel Zelaya was removed from the country. Since March this year, this decline has accelerated: eight journalists have been killed since 1 March 2010.

For at least one of those journalists, Nahúm Palacios Arteaga of TV Channel 5, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued an order to the Honduran government to protect Palacios’ life. The government states it never received the order. However, the IACHR has a document signed by the Honduran Supreme Court attesting receipt of the directive.

On 14 September another journalist under the protection of the IACHR, Luis Galdámez Álvarez, survived an assassination attempt. Galdámez, a reporter for the national broadcaster Radio Globo and Globo TV, is an outspoken critic of President Lobo’s new government and has been receiving death threats since the coup. On 24 July 2009 the IACHR issued a recommendation that he be provided with protection. So far, no protective measures have been taken for him.

To date, there have been no convictions for the murders making Honduras one of the most dangerous places for journalists in the world. A special report by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) found that the police investigations have been negligent, at the very least. The CPJ investigation found that the Honduran government’s ‘continued failure to investigate crimes against journalists has created a climate of pervasive impunity’ although it did not find evidence of a coordinated effort in the seven journalists’ deaths examined.

Since that report, in July 2010, there has been at least one attack by security forces on Radio Uno. This is in addition to the several raids Radio Globo and other news agencies despite the IACHR order for precautionary measures for ‘media workers for Channel 36, Radio La Catracha, Radio Cholusat Sur, and Radio Globo, and the right to information of Honduran society

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