Freedom of Expression

Press Release R1/11


Washington D.C., January 11, 2011 – The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its concern over the recent acts of harassment sustained by several community radio broadcasters in Honduras. The Office of the Special Rapporteur urges the Honduran State to investigate these acts and to guarantee that neither its agents nor private individuals commit acts of harassment against those who are exercising their freedom of expression through community radio.

According to the information received, individuals from the Electrical Measurement Service of Honduras (SEMEH) reportedly entered the offices of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) in the city of La Esperanza on January 5, 2011. According to this information, the SEMEH representatives cut the electrical power, thus shutting down the broadcasts of the community radio stations Guarajambala and La Voz Lenca, which are members of the COPINH. The information received indicates that the SEMEH representatives intended to prevent those radio stations from continuing to broadcast, in retaliation for the critical content of their broadcasts.

In addition, the Office of the Special Rapporteur received information that two journalists from the community radio La Voz de Zacate Grande were detained while performing their journalistic duties last December 15, 2010. According to the information received, correspondents Elia Hernández and Elba Rubio were covering the eviction of a family from its land in the community of Coyolito, on the island of Zacate Grande, when they were detained by members of the Preventive Police and the Navy. The information received indicates that the reporters were stripped of their press credentials and their cameras, detained and kept incommunicado for 36 hours, and charged with the offense of disobedience.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur expresses its concern over these events, and recalls that  Principle 9 of the IACHR’s Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression states: "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."