Report to the Midyear Meeting
April 20-23


During this period, in addition to the threats against the exercise of journalism, constitutional protections were suspended by the government for more than a year - due to the pandemic. A journalist was assassinated.

President Juan Orlando Hernández imposed a nationwide absolute curfew, and although it has been modified and relaxed, journalists have had difficulties in carrying out their work.

The Committee for Freedom of Expression (C-Libre) has registered 23 attacks against journalists, including theft of information, blocking of social media accounts and arbitrary arrests. And, according to the latest report of the Observatory of Violence of the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH) and the Association for a Fairer Society (ASJ), 29 journalists are under protection by the General Directorate for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, Journalists, Social Communicators and Justice Operators.

On December 19, Pedro Arcángel Canelas, owner of Radio Bambi and presenter of the news program "Correo Informativo," in the municipality of Dulce Nombre de Culmí, in the department of Olancho, was assassinated. An unknown man on a motorcycle shot him point-blank. In his last program on December 10, Canelas referred to the increase in violence in that area of the country and the ineffectiveness of the security forces.

Many organizations, analysts and leaders have pointed out that "to talk about pandemic management implies taking risks," either regarding the poor handling of humanitarian aid, irregular acquisitions of masks and ventilators, and the millions of dollars spent on mobile hospitals that have not worked.

During the last semester, there was a reduction in the number of radio and television simulcasts ordered by CONATEL - which amounted to up to three per day, many of them on irrelevant issues.

On the positive side, defamation cases will be handled in the civil courts, after the National Congress revised the articles related to crimes against honor in the new Penal Code - which used to criminalize and punish with jail and financial penalties the exercise of press freedom.

However, the new Penal Code - which the president of the Legislative Power promised to revise - has provisions that could be used to persecute, repress and criminalize social protest, with much more severe penalties than those applied to other more serious crimes. It also stiffens penalties for crimes of coercion and instigation to sedition - linked to rural conflicts and regarding the protection of natural resources.

The Cybersecurity Law - approved by the National Congress' Judgment Committee - could threaten press freedom by establishing provisions to prevent hate speech and discrimination in social networks and on the Internet, and imposing duties on the owners or administrators of websites.

The Official Secrets Law - approved on January 24, 2014 - is considered an obstacle to access public information, because it shields documents related to more than 20 ministries and government departments as reserved, confidential, secret and top secret for 5, 10 and up to 25 years.

The names of several journalists were mentioned in a government investigation against 11 public officials for alleged diversion of funds during the exercise of public administration. The journalists sold legal advertising contracts, but were accused in social networks - an incident considered a strategy to divert attention from issues of national interest.