Freedom of Expression

Press Release R96/10






Washington D.C., September 20, 2010 – The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the acts of violence committed in recent days against journalists and communications media in Honduras, and urges authorities to take all measures necessary to prevent such crimes and to duly investigate and punish the perpetrators.

According to the information received, on September 14 unknown persons fired shots at Honduran journalist Luis Galdámez Álvarez. Thanks to the journalist’s quick reaction, the attack was thwarted. Galdámez is the director of an opinion program on Radio Globo, and has been a critic of the coup d’état of June 28, 2009. The IACHR granted precautionary measures for him as of July 24, 2009 because he had received death threats, and those measures remain in effect. Nevertheless, according to information received by this Rapporteur’s Office, the Honduran authorities have failed to provide him with adequate safety measures.    

The Office of the Special Rapporteur also learned that on September 15 members of the military and the police threw tear gas canisters at the Radio Uno radio station in San Pedro Sula, attacked the individuals inside the station with billy clubs and tear gas, broke the building’s windows, damaged equipment, and seriously injured a person who was about to be interviewed. In addition, last August 31 unknown individuals damaged the station’s broadcasting equipment and forced it off the air temporarily. Radio Uno is a cultural broadcasting station and an institute for journalism education owned by a media cooperative. The radio station has maintained a critical stance toward the coup d’état.  

The Office of the Special Rapporteur was further informed that last September 7 demonstrators protesting the coup d’état threw sticks and rocks at the Televicentro television station and at the building where the news program Abriendo Brecha operates.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur is troubled by the persistence of the attacks against journalists and the media, as well as by the lack of results in the investigations into the murder of journalists committed this year in Honduras. Sustained impunity is one of the greatest threats to freedom of expression, as it not only denies justice to the victims but it also affects society as a whole by creating fear and self-censorship among reporters.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur urgently calls upon the Honduran authorities to condemn the attacks, investigate the facts, punish the perpetrators, effectively implement the precautionary measures ordered by the IACHR, and guarantee the safety of journalists and the media—an essential condition for the existence of free and robust debate.

The ninth principle of the IACHR Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression states that "The murder, kidnapping, intimidation of and/or threats to social communicators, as well as the material destruction of communications media violate the fundamental rights of individuals and strongly restrict freedom of expression. It is the duty of the state to prevent and investigate such occurrences, to punish their perpetrators and to ensure that victims receive due compensation."

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