Press Release

IACHR and OHCHR Express Concern over Threats and Practices of Harassment against Human Rights Defenders, Journalists, and Media Outlets in Honduras Following the Elections

January 19, 2018

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Tegucigalpa/Washington, D.C.—The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Honduras (OHCHR) express their deep concern over the threats and harassment against human rights defenders, journalists, and media outlets in the post-electoral context, and urge the State of Honduras to adopt measures to ensure a safe environment in which they can do their work freely.

During the post-electoral crisis, the OHCHR has been able to document a growing number of complaints of acts of intimidation and harassment against human rights defenders and social leaders, said to have affected more than 50 people in the departments of Atlántida, Yoro, Cortés, and Choluteca. These acts, which reportedly have intensified since December 20 and which both international human rights organizations have spoken out against, have included, according to testimonials, warrantless searches, instances of being followed by members of State security forces and individuals dressed as civilians, threatening calls, and public smear campaigns through pamphlets that include false personal profiles and allegations of criminal offenses.

In addition, according to the information received, some journalists have received threats and menacing phone calls after disseminating information about the country’s political context. Moreover, some journalists and media outlets have reportedly been victims of a campaign of intimidation through posters that publicly accuse them of being “killers of democracy and the truth” subservient to the government or “inciters of violence and hate” paid by the opposition.

The incidents described violate, with no supporting evidence, the right to honor and dignity of those who practice journalism or defend human rights. They also threaten their physical and psychological integrity and create an intimidating and threatening atmosphere that severely restricts the rights to assembly, freedom of expression, and association that are recognized by instruments of international human rights law and that constitute basic pillars for social participation in a democracy in which the rule of law prevails.

The defense of human rights and the practice of journalism are essential to the construction of a solid and lasting democratic society and play a leading role in pursuing the full attainment of the rule of law. The IACHR and the OHCHR urge the State to adopt all necessary measures to prevent these incidents and attacks, including by adopting a public discourse that recognizes the importance of the work of human rights defenders and journalists and by carrying out prompt, effective, and impartial investigations that enable those responsible to be identified and punished, as effective measures to ensure that such incidents do not happen again.

The IACHR and the OHCHR also remind the State that it must provide adequate resources to the National Protection Mechanism for human rights defenders, journalists, members of the media, and justice operators so that it can strengthen the support it provides them in a way that is proportionate to the risks that can arise at every turn as they carry out their work of defending rights. In this context, the IACHR and the OHCHR urge the State to implement policies and practices that bring to light the National Protection Mechanism’s criteria of inclusion, risk evaluation, and protection, in accordance with international standards on human rights.

No. 007/18