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New spate of threats and attacks on journalists in Honduras

There has been an alarming increase in threats and violence against journalists in Honduras. There have been seven cases in the space of 10 days and all the media involved are ones that spoke out against the June 2009 coup d’état, according to Paris-based press freedom group Reporters sans Frontières (RSF).

The first in the latest spate of cases was the March 13 shooting of Franklin Meléndez, the head of the community radio station La Voz de Zacate Grande. According to the Committee for Free Expression (C-Libre), the alleged assailant, Porfirio Medina, publicly threatened one of the station’s correspondents, Ethel Correa, in the hours following the attack, saying she would be “the next to die.” The complete impunity enjoyed by Meléndez, the presumed perpetrator of a murder attempt, has compounded the repeated harassment of this small radio station and its personnel by the authorities.

The situation is hardly any better for national media. Lidieth Díaz, a reporter with Cholusat - Canal 36, and her husband, David Romero, the head of Radio Globo, were attacked by riot police while covering a protest by teachers in Tegucigalpa on March 21. Díaz tried to negotiate with the police but they responded by setting off a teargas grenade right in front of her. The incident was filmed.

Police fired rubber bullets at Radio Gualcho director Sandra Maribel Sánchez and Globo TV cameraman Uriel Rodríguez during the same demonstration, hitting Rodríguez in the leg. The police also tried to snatch Sánchez’s camera.

“Are the Honduran government’s promises to the UN and OAS to improve the situation of the media being used as a smokescreen for targeted attacks on outspoken or opposition media?” RSF said. “We have every reason to suspect this, given the latest events and the total absence of protection for the most exposed and vulnerable media.”

The press freedom organisation added: “The systematic violation of pluralism shows yet again that the coup d’état’s original goals are still being pursued. This situation requires the firmest possible reaction by international and Inter-American bodies. The Honduran authorities must be held accountable without delay for their failure to adhere to their obligations.”

Date posted: March 24, 2011 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 44