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Attacks on the Press in 1996 - Honduras

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date February 1997
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 1996 - Honduras, February 1997, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/47c5650423.html [accessed 27 December 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Honduran journalists have became more aggressive in pursuing investigative stories about official and private sector corruption. But the press146;s efforts to deepen its coverage also led to several attacks on journalists during the year.

The Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in Honduras (CODEH) reported that Sandra Maribel Sanchez Escoto, a reporter who covers the Congress for Radio América, a national radio station, received numerous telephone death threats as a result of her investigative reporting on corruption among officials and the military.

CODEH also reported that on Nov. 3, a reporter and photographer for the Tegucigalpa daily La Tribuna were assaulted by the spouse of a public official and political candidate. Jimmy Macoto, the husband of Gloria Oqueli de Macoto, executive director of the National Institute of Retirement Pensions for Public Employees, assaulted reporter Emma Calderón and photographer Julio Cesar Atunez after they covered a political rally outside the capital and took a picture of the couple's sportscar, an Alpha Romeo.

February 15
Guilmor García, La Prensa, THREATENED

García, a photographer with the daily newspaper La Prensa, was threatened by an agent of the Criminal Investigation Division (DIC) of the Public Ministry in San Pedro Sula. When García photographed the back of a DIC agent as he was inspecting a car recovered after a robbery, the agent warned García not to publish the picture. Then he asked for García's press card and took down his name. The DIC later issued an apology.

September 4
All journalists, LEGAL ACTION

The Honduran National Congress approved reforms to Article 295 of the penal code, increasing prison sentences and fines for anyone who "within the country or abroad publishes or in any manner discloses false, exaggerated, or tendentious news which places at risk the national economy or public credit." Individuals found guilty under this amendment now face a three- to six-year prison sentence, up from one to three years, and may be fined 20, 000 to 50, 000 lempiras (US$1, 600 to $4, 000), up from 500 to 2, 000 lempiras.
Journalists and human rights advocates denounced the changes to the legislation. In response, the Congress on Sept. 11 made the law even broader, removing from the text any reference to publishing or disclosing news and making the law applicable to anyone who "places at risk the national economy or public credit." The Commission for the Defense of Human Rights (CODEH) issued a statement saying that the reforms to Article 295 violate Hondurans' constitutional right to free expression.

October 8
Jorge Luis Monroy, La Voz de la Frontera, ATTACKED, THREATENED

Monroy, a news commentator for the radio station La Voz de La Frontera in Ocotepeque and a five-year veteran of the daily program "Las Verdades del Aire, " was attacked by two assailants while on the air. Monroy was transmitting his program from the broadcast booth when, during a discussion on local political issues and the recent results of an internal election within one of the two major Honduran parties, two men entered the station and forced their way into the broadcast booth. During the live broadcast, one of the men punched Monroy in the face, breaking his nose, and the other pummeled him with more than 15 blows to the head and body. Monroy was told he would be killed if he did not stop spreading lies or if he reported who his attackers were. The two men have been identified by Monroy as businessman Luis Manuel López and orthodontist César Pinto Valle. A complaint was filed with local police and with the National Commission on Human Rights, but both men are still at large.

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