Report to the Midyear Meeting

Bridgetown, Barbados

April 4 – 7, 2014

There persists a climate of lack of safety for the practice of journalism, with high levels of impunity which moreover are giving rise to self-censorship of news on such sensitive issues as lack of public security and cross-border organized crime.

The government continues to issue arbitrary instructions restricting access to public information, now exacerbated by the passage on March 7 of the Law for the Classification of Public Records Concerning National Security and Defense, which violates principles on transparency and access. This law has been criticized to the judicial branch of government by various sectors as containing ambiguous language that could be taken advantage of by officials to hide information of public interest.

There have continued to be threats, attacks and abuses of media and journalists, the most significant cases in the past six months being the following:

On October 23 cameraman Manuel Murillo Varela was murdered in Tegucigalpa. He had protective measure granted the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) due to what had occurred previously.

On October 28 journalist Adolfo Hernández formally accused before the Human Rights Commission the government of being responsible for death threats and the shutdown of the television program "No se Deje" (Don't Stop) broadcast by Telered 21 television.

On October 31 journalist Ariela Cáceres with the TV channel Hable Como Habla (HCH) reported having received telephoned death threats and suffered the looting of her vehicle.

On November 12 there was an armed attack on the headquarters of Canal 34 television and radio station Popularísima in the city of Siguatepeque and on the vehicle of Nery Recarte, owner of the two media outlets. The Human Rights Commission asked the government to provide protection.

On December 8 the murder was reported of communications businessman Juan Carlos Argenal Medina in Danlí. He was the correspondent of Globo TV in that city and owner of Discomóvil Suprema. The authorities said he had received two shots to the head.

On December 10 journalist Erick Mairena of Maya TV told the Human Rights Commission that he had been physically and verbally attacked by Escuela Hospital security guards as he was interviewing a person there.

On March 24 journalist Esdras Amado López of Canal 36 television reported that his channel and Radio Globo were being the victims of persecution and stigmatization by the government and President Juan Orlando Hernández. He based his denunciation on recent statements by the President accusing the two media outlets of having "as their political agenda accusing the Honduras government of being involved in multiple murders of young people committed recently."