The climate for the practice of journalism continues to be a negative one and include threats to journalists, attacks on news media, and impunity surrounding crimes against journalists.
The federal government, despite its repeated promises to deal with and put an end to the wave of crime against press freedom and free speech, has made little effort to devote technical, scientific, financial and legal resources in a bid to prevent, investigate, punish, and end crimes against journalists, public opinion leaders or news media.
In statements made recently to the media the Chief Prosecutor of the District Attorney’s Office, lawyer Danelia Ferrera, said that for the investigation of murders of journalists she had only “three police officers and one prosecutor.”
The Honduras National Human Rights Commission said in its reports that “the persistence of impunity in the country is giving rise to a feeling of impotence and frustration among the people of Honduras.”
The government, in addition to not responding to the attacks on freedom of expression in the country, has on a number of occasions raised, through President Porfirio Lobo Sosa, the possibility of enactment of a law to “regulate” news media activity. On January 25 he declared, “The press is not for the personal benefit of anyone. In the name of freedom of expression no one can defend its particular interests. That is preaching and you should watch out because that is how it is. Any influence or particular interest is called expression at the service of particular interests, and that cannot be.”
Lobo said that he would be introducing a bill to regulate the work of Honduran journalists. “Get ready, because I am going to send you a decree,” he declared. To date he has not sent that bill to Congress.
These are the most relevant cases during this period:
On November 9 there was confirmation of acts of intimidation of a son of journalist Renato Álvarez, who was the object of an attack by three men who got out of a vehicle parked outside his house, and pistols in hand aimed at his head and seized from him his backpack and mobile phone.
On November 17 journalist Francisco Hernández, who runs the program “Afternoon News Commentary” on Radio Globo and Globo TV, received a series of telephone calls and then a message telling him “Answer me, you SoB, if you don’t do so right away we are going to beat you up until all your family are done away with.” Hernández asked the District Attorney’s Office to investigate where the threats had come from.
In November editors and reporters of the newspaper El Heraldo on a number of occasions received threatening messages which began after denunciations of police actions and a questioning of the purchase of thermal energy. The messages on their mobile phones were insulting and humiliating and there were even threats to the reporters walking on the street. The situation worsened on November 21, when a Kia Sorento car followed one of the editors. The vehicle was being driven by a person in police uniform.
Similar threats were reported by journalists with the newspaper La Tribuna, who on various occasions in November were the object of police trailing, harassment and, on November 20, one of the journalists was shot at twice while he was on his way home. One of the newspaper’s photographers was threatened by a member of the National Police at the Francisco Morazán provincial criminal courthouse. As he was taking pictures the police officer threatened him, telling him “Remember I go about freely, if you show me up tomorrow I will seek you out ….”
On December 5, La Tribuna was the object of an attack in which one of its security guards was shot at several times and injured.
On February 29 it was reported that three journalists from Catedral TV television, Luis Rodríguez, Javier Villalobos and Juan Ramón Flores, had received threats in telephone calls and in text messages on their mobile phones.
On February 23 journalist Ivis Alvarado of Globo TV and Radio Globo reported his vehicle had been searched, his computers stolen and other threats made which made him fear for his family’s safety.
On March 8 journalist Mavis Cruz of Radio Libertad said she had received threats, as had her husband, journalist Carlos Rodríguez Panting of the Maya TV newscast “Noticiero en la Mira.”
In this period three members of the press were killed, although it was ruled out that their deaths were linked to their work as journalists:
On December 6 reporter Luz Marina Paz of the news chain Cadena Hondureña de Noticias in Tegucigalpa was shot several times and killed.
On March 1 journalist Saira Fabiola Almendares Borjas of Canal 30 television and Radio Cadena Voces was found shot to death in the town of Choloma, along with other people.
On March 11 journalist Fausto Elio Valle Hernández Arteaga of Radio Alegre was found hacked to death in Saba, Colon province.