Recently, the Chief of the Preventive Police in the South of Honduras, Eduardo Turcios arbitrarily removed the protection measures for journalist Jairo López, despite the fact that said measures had been approved by the “Mechanism of Protection “established by the Law for the Protection of Journalists, Social Communicators, Defenders of Human Rights and Justice Operators, which was approved by the Honduran National Congress in May 2015.
The journalist, according to Reporters Without Borders, 2015 “revealed acts of corruption in which officials and politicians were involved, including the president of the National Congress, Mauricio Oliva. Since then he has been the victim of a smear campaign and faces a defamation trial in which serious irregularities have been recorded”.
To this situation we must add that in the early morning of December 10, Radio Progreso suffered an attack on its transmitting antennas and was off the air.
In a report by TELESUR network, Father Ismael Moreno, a Jesuit priest and director of the station, said, “we are in a critical situation in the country, and as Radio Progreso has stood by those who are questioning the results of the election and are also denouncing the human rights abuses that have been attributed to the current government, we the management of Radio Progreso blame the campaign of Juan Orlando Hernández, and his supporters, as those entirely responsible for this sabotage”.
It is not the first time that the station has suffered reprisals for its work. In April 2010, Gerardo Chévez, a radio journalist, and Father Ismael Moreno reported that they had received death threats.
In 2011, the military occupied the station’s facilities and in 2014, Carlos Hilario Mejía Orellana, a supporter and activist of Radio Progreso, was stabbed to death in his apartment.
According to Reporters Without Borders: “Honduras is one of the most dangerous countries in Latin America for the press. The National Commissioner for Human Rights (CONADEH) reported that between January 2001 and August 2017, 70 journalists and media workers were murdered in Honduras; 91% of these cases remain unpunished “-
Honduras ranks 140th in the 2017 World Press Freedom Ranking. Far from Norway, Sweden and Finland, which occupy the first places with the greatest freedom of the press.
For its part, the “Report of the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression” of the CIDH indicated that in 2016, 3 journalists were murdered in Honduras and there were attacks, threats and intimidation against journalists and the media.
“The CIDH and its Special Rapporteur point out that state officials must unequivocally repudiate attacks perpetrated in reprisal for the exercise of freedom of expression, and should refrain from making statements that may increase the vulnerability of those who are persecuted for exercising their right to freedom of expression.
We can not forget either that this year, on September 13, Channel 22 journalist Carlos William Flores was murdered by “unidentified” people.
Amnesty International also expressed concern about the human rights situation in Honduras and said, with regard to the right of freedom of expression that “The evidence shows that there is no space for people to express their opinions in Honduras. When they do, they face the full force of the government’s repressive apparatus”.
Unfortunately, in Honduras both the media and journalists and communicators are in danger of attacks or reprisals for their work.
But not only them. “Since the coup of 2009, 123 land and environmental activists have been murdered in Honduras; many others have been threatened, attacked or imprisoned”, declared Global Witness. Among these cases, is the murder of Berta Cáceres that remains unsolved.
In recent weeks, and according to a COFADEH report, after the fraudulent elections of November 26, “Fourteen people lost their lives violently, 12 of them due to gobernment violent repression of the protests and the suspension of constitutional rights; another 51 were injured, seven of them seriously; 844 were arrested, of which 148 were charged with the crime of aggravated robbery, 3 for terrorism and 91 criminal cases have been opened in Tegucigalpa, La Ceiba and San Pedro Sula.
Honduras lives a dictatorship and the OAS and the US are complicit in the human rights violations that have long been taking place in this country.
Pablo Ruiz, Observer for the School of the Americas Watch – SOAW
Translation: Adrian y Carolina