Lobo in Honduras moves to regulate journalism

The Inter American Press Association Thursday voiced concern and surprise at an announcement by President Porfirio Lobo of Honduras that he plans to send to congress a bill to regulate the practice of journalism and news media.

Lobo made the announcement Wednesday night during his speech opening the third legislative session, but he gave no details of the bill’s content. After praising the role of the news media in exposing wrongdoing committed in his government, Lobo justified the need to regulate the media so they would not be at the service of special interests, explaining that journalism is a true vocation.

Gustavo Mohme, chairman of the Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information of the Inter American Press Association, expressed surprise at Lobo’s announcement. “It is important that Honduras maintains its respect for freedom of the press and for the work of journalists as democratic values,” he said.

Mohme, editor of the Lima, Peru, newspaper La República, declared that “journalism has no greater virtue than that which democracy demands, that is to say to be a watchdog over the powers that be, create public opinion and have the necessary freedom to practice the profession in accordance with its own editorial criteria.”

“Whatever law – if any were necessary – should underscore these democratic principles,” he added.

President Lobo signed the Declaration of Chapultepec last February during a ceremony in Tegucigalpa, pledging to defend the principles of freedom of the press and free speech. The Inter American Press Association sponsored that document.

The organization’s officers are planning to meet with Lobo late next month and among other matters discuss the difficult situation of the press in the Central American country in the face of violence unleashed by organized crime and drug traffickers. In the last three years 17 journalists have been killed in Honduras.

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. The parent firm of A.M. Costa Rica is a member.

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