Report: Freedom of Expression on Decline in Honduras

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The international NGO, Reporters Without Borders, has published a troubling report in which it’s concluded that the state of free speech in Honduras is at “high risk” due to an onslaught of several restrictive legislation. One law in particular, the “Secrecy Law” passed in 2014, erects a bureaucratic barrier between Honduran citizens and public information. In Honduras, like the other nations of the Northern Triangle, absent government accountability is a recurring issue not only for journalists, but also for everyday citizens.

Freedom of expression has suffered a “slow decline” in the last decade, says RWB, which underscores the levels of impunity, corruption and organised crime in the country, as well as the intimidation and threats suffered by journalists working for “opposition or community media outlets,” who are attacked and even forced to leave the country.

From 2001 to 2018, some 75 journalists and social communicators have been murdered in Honduras, and of those crimes only six have been prosecuted while the rest remain unpunished, according to the state Honduran National Human Rights Commission (Conadeh).

“…[T]he climate of freedom of expression is one of high risk and it should be noted that here political intolerance of criticism of the three branches of government has prompted them not to investigate threats to the press and to register the crimes without putting a face or name to the culprits. ” — Nery Velásquez

In its 2018 report, RWB says that Honduras ranked 141st out of 180 countries assessed.

Víctor Hugo Álvarez, a journalist and social analyst, said freedom of expression is jeopardised by corruption and drug trafficking.

“Drug-trafficking groups are in collusion with corporate powers and political and police authorities which prevents a healthy climate for working in journalism, thus putting media workers at great risk,” he told IPS.

Added to all this is “corruption, which also taints the exercise of the profession,” he added.

Óscar Morán Méndez, a reporter for the national radio station Radio América based in the capital, believes that the exercise of freedom of expression is curtailed by laws, threats and the interests of the mass media, which is “the other shackle.”

“There is a kind of complicity between the media and the government defined by the advertising guidelines and the blocking of media coverage of certain information. Advertising is, for now, the best deterrent by the government in its control over a sector of the big media,” this reporter with more than two decades of experience told IPS.


Read the full article from Inter-Press Service here

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