HONDURAS Report to the Midyear Meeting Caracas, Venezuela March 28 - 30, 2008 Freedom of the press is still under attack in Honduras. The government continues to levy sweeping accusations against the press. One journalist has been killed, and others have gone into exile as a result of assaults and threats. This deteriorating state of press freedom was witnessed by Ambeyi Ligabo, the United Nations special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, on his visit to Honduras last December. Ligabo concluded that there are four obstacles to press freedom in Honduras: a lack of safety for journalists, a general climate of fear, impunity for those who commit crimes, and slow progress in bringing Honduran law in line with international law. The rapporteur expressed his concern that the government is practicing direct and indirect censorship, not only by using advertising as a weapon against media outlets critical of the current administration, but also by using journalists paid by the government, which Ligabo described as an unacceptable practice contrary to journalistic ethics. He added that the Law on Transparency and Access to Public Information represents a major step forward, but one that should not be used as a political tool. Major developments in the latest period include the following: At a March 17 press conference, President Manuel Zelaya accused the media of anti-government bias. In response to journalists’ questions alluding to a recent disturbance at a soccer match that left one person dead, as well as the growing wave of crime and insecurity in Honduras, the president criticized the work of several media outlets and the daily dose of violence in the news. “Massacres every day, no matter what. If we do a good job, they say it’s bad, and if we do a bad job, they say it stinks.” Zelaya added: “So it’s an injustice if a business owner uses a radio station only to attack, only to point out what’s bad, only to destroy. I call on Radio Cadena Voces to at least respect the office of the President. The President is a symbol of our nation. I don’t know how they can wish bad things on you all, on the nation and the people…. In this case I call on them to reflect, because freedom of the press must be defended objectively.” On October 18, 2007, radio journalist Carlos Salgado was shot at point-blank range and killed by two unidentified assailants as he left the offices of Radio Cadena Voces in Tegucigalpa after taping his program “Frijol el Terrible.” Salgado was 67 years old. On October 28, Germán David Almendárez Amador, 29, was arrested for a second time in connection with the killing. A 9 mm pistol that may have been used to kill Salgado was found at Almendárez’s home. On November 23, Geovanny García, a journalist for Channel 13, left the country for a second time for fear of another attempt on his life. García had first left for Canada in October 2007 after someone opened fire on him, leaving him with an injured hand. He had then returned to Honduras to deal with personal matters. On November 1 Dagoberto Rodríguez, station director of Radio Cadena Voces, also left the country for the same reasons. Ramón Custodio, the national human rights commissioner, said it was a shame that journalists who work to inform the public are forced to leave the country to save their own lives. On November 30, Cadena Radial Sonora, of the Audio Video radio network, denounced the illegal detention of journalist Adonai Flores. While Flores was riding a city bus, three police officers boarded the bus, conducted a search and, for no apparent reason, arrested Flores and led him off in handcuffs, even though he had identified himself as a journalist.