It calls for repeal of executive decree on reprisals for alleged defamation in Haiti
Miami (April 14, 2014)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today expressed concern at the murder of Carlos Hilario Mejía Orellana, an employee of Radio Progreso in Honduras, and called on the authorities to promptly determine the motives for the crime.
Mejía Orellana, 35, was employed for 13 years at the radio station, operated by the Company of Jesus. He worked in the station’s advertising sales department. His body, stabbed to death, was found on April 11 at his home in the Roberto Suazo Córdova neighborhood of El Progreso city, Yoro province in northern Honduras.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) had since 2009 provided protective measures for Mejía Orellana and other members of the radio’s Equipo de Reflexión, Investigación y Comunicación (Reflection, Investigation and Communication Team) after they reported having received death threats.
The chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Claudio Paolillo, declared, “Despite police investigations regarding the motives behind the murder, any hypothesis due to the actions taken by the IACHR should not be discarded.”
In another development the IAPA echoed a complaint made by the Haitian press organization SOS Journalistes where the National Telecommunications Council (CONATEL) had threatened to take reprisals against any media outlet publishing information considered to be false or defamatory. This action – which could be applied to Radio Zenith for its reports about government and police authorities – is based on an executive order made in 1977 during the term of former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier.
Paolillo, editor of the Montevideo, Uruguay, weekly Búsqueda, said that "Government should not assume authoritarian attitudes, or act as judge and jury, in cases where alleged defamation must be analyzed from the perspective of ordinary justice, taking into account, for the purposes of judging, subsequent liability requirements vs. censorship, actual malice, diligence in the search for truth and greater scrutiny to which they subject public officials in cases of public issues.”
The IAPA and SOS Journalistes agree that decrees of this nature are retrograde concerning principles of freedom of expression and human rights in giving protection and special privileges to public officials.
The IAPA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press and of expression in the Americas. It is made up of more than 1,300 print publications from throughout the Western Hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida. For more information please go to http://www.sipiapa.org.