Reporters Without Borders condemns the violence used by police and soldiers to disperse yesterday’s demonstration by journalists – mostly women – outside the presidential palace in Tegucigalpa to demand justice for the 24 journalists killed since 2003, 17 of them since the June 2009 coup d’état. The latest journalist to be murdered, last week, was a woman.
“The Honduran government’s only response to the dire human rights and civil liberties situation is repression,” Reporters Without Borders said. “This attitude shows that it is completely responsible for this situation and that the persecution that began after the coup is continuing. The ‘national reconciliation’ bandied about since the Cartagena Accord is no more than empty words.
“The international community and the governments of Latin America must insist on tangible results in 2012 in the investigations into human rights violation and on full cooperation from the Honduran authorities with these investigations. Otherwise there will be a danger of chaos again in the run-up the major elections scheduled for 2013.”
Yesterday’s demonstration, which set off from the Francisco Morazán Teachers’ Training University, was convened by the Journalists for Life and Free Expression Collective in response to the 6 December murder of radio host Luz Marina Paz Villalobos, first woman journalist to have been killed in Honduras.
The Honduran Committee for Free Expression (C-Libre), a Reporters Without Borders partner organization, said the protesters also condemned the censorship and systematic harassment to which alternative and community media, human rights activists and civil society representatives are exposed. Dogged by political violence since the 2009 coup, Honduras has one of the world’s worse crime rates, with an average of 86 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants a year.
One of the participants in yesterday’s protest told Reporters Without Borders: “We managed to move the security barrier a bit and thereby reach our goal. This enraged the soldiers guarding the presidential palace, who were waiting for us behind another metal barrier further down. They pushed us back, hit us with batons and used teargas to force us to disperse.”
She pointed out that the journalists who took part in a previous march organized by the Association of Honduran Journalists (CPH) on 9 November were able to demonstrate without any problem.
Honduras is the western hemisphere’s deadliest country for the media after Mexico. Five Honduran journalists have been killed since the start of this year. In three of the cases, the motive was directly or very probably linked to the victim’s work.
Source: Reporters Without Borders