Press group denounces Honduran media threats

The Inter American Press Association Monday expressed concern at threats and other acts of intimidation made against media editors and reporters in Honduras and added its support to a request by the national human rights commissioner that the government investigate complaints of such actions so as to ensure the safety of journalists and guarantee freedom of the press.

The human rights commissioner, Ramón Custodio, last week had condemned acts of harassment and threats to reporters and editors with the newspapers El Heraldo and La Tribuna, television channels Televicentro and Globo TV and radio station Radio Globo. These media have reported on corruption in the police force and complained of a lack of transparency in the public administration.

The chairman of the Inter American Press Association’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Gustavo Mohme, declared that the organization “repudiates these actions against Honduran journalists and their families, aimed at scaring the press and through intimidation bring about self-censorship in order to prevent compromising information coming out in the press.”

“The lack of justice and punishment is encouraging greater violence,” said Mohme, editor of the Lima, Peru, newspaper La República. He echoed the plea made by the human rights commissioner to the Honduran resident, Porfirio Lobo, to have the reports of wrongdoing investigated and reminded him that it is the duty of the government to investigate some 19 still unsolved murders of journalists committed in the Central American country since 2007.

According to the El Heraldo reporters and editors have been receiving insults and threats on their cell phones, and last week one of them was followed by a suspicious-looking vehicle that was understood to have been seized by the authorities for having been used in organized crime activities.

Also last week a reporter with the La Tribuna investigative team was uninjured in an attack after being followed as he left the newspaper’s offices. Unidentified persons shot at him several times. The newspaper has also received a number of suspicious calls, and one of its editors was twice detained by police between Nov. 9 and 11 and roughed up after identifying himself as a La Tribuna employee. In addition, a photographer covering a court case involving a police officer was threatened, said the newspaper.

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