Report to the 71th General Assembly

Charleston, South Carolina

October 2 – 6, 2015

The country continues to be at high risk for the practice of journalism. The cases of attacks on and murders of journalists or people connected to news media continue and the majority remain unpunished given the ineffectiveness of the justice system.

There was enacted the "Law on Protection for Human Rights Defenders, Journalists, Social Communicators and Operators of Justice," but it lacks technical, financial and operational resources enabling it to become an effective weapon to combat attacks on these vulnerable groups, which continue to give up mortal victims, which is more noticeable in professionals of the law.

There continue in force a number of laws and official regulations that limit access to pubic information, "national security" being the argument. Several cases have been presented in which government offices have denied information to watchdog bodies such as the Accounting High Court or the Access to Public Information Institute.

There has been a substantial increase in complaints and denunciations of journalists and communicators of nearly all the country's media through attacks in social media.

There continue to be presented cases in which journalists are put on trial in criminal court for offenses against honor (defamation, calumny and libel), which has given rise to the suspension of the practice of the profession by journalist Julio Ernesto Alvarado, despite his enjoying precautionary measures on the part of the Inter American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and to the threat to jail journalist David Romero Ellner.

Several cases of attacks on journalists occurred during coverage of public protests, the most violent taking place on September 1 in the city of El Progreso, Yoro province, where journalists Eddie Andino, Gerardo Chevez, Román Paz and Dunia Montoya, among others, were injured during a police clearance of the public highway. Montoya underwent surgery for fractures. Also reported was the temporary detention of several reporters covering these demonstrations.

In a report in the newspaper El Heraldo it was suggested that agents and Honduras government officials might have participated in several crimes of major impact, including the murder of journalist Alfredo Villatoro, the first one to point to government officials.

Former First Lady Rosa Elena Bonilla Ávila, wife of President Porfirio Lobo, sued the Compañía Televisora Hondureña S.A. de C.V. television company and journalist Ulises Aguirre. She called for indemnity for considering them to have violated her rights to honor, privacy and image. The lawsuit was due to the presentation of a news item on August 13 in which there was a report about a financial audit by the Accounting High Court of alleged irregularities in the First Lady's Office between 2010 and 2012.

In the last six months the most relevant cases have been the following:

July 4 was killed Achilles Joel Torres, owner of Channel 77 in the city of Taulabé, Comayagua.

In this period other crime other two crimes against journalists were registered in apparently circumstances unrelated to journalism.