News Coverage Exposes Journalists to Growing Danger
|Publisher||Reporters Without Borders|
|Publication Date||9 April 2013|
|Cite as||Reporters Without Borders, News Coverage Exposes Journalists to Growing Danger, 9 April 2013, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/517949044.html [accessed 12 December 2017]|
Land disputes, environmental problems linked to mining, purges of the police and the human rights situation are all key issues in Honduras but they all also pose a danger for journalists who have the courage to cover them.
Reporters Without Borders is very concerned about an increase in harassment and violence against media personnel seven months before general elections scheduled for 10 November 2013.
The organization urges the international community, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and regional bodies such as the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) to put freedom of information at the centre of their relations with Honduras, a country that is still marked by the after-effects of a June 2009 coup.
The Honduran authorities must be constantly reminded of their duty to protect journalists and human rights defenders in a country where they are under great threat. This is particular so for those who work independently in regions with major social conflicts such as Bajo Aguán and the Zacate Grande peninsula.
Fidelina Sandoval (picture), a journalist employed by national radio and TV broadcaster Globo, survived an apparent murder attempt unhurt yesterday when a shot was fired as she approached Globo TV headquarters in Tegucigalpa.
"I noticed a grey vehicle following me," she said. "I saw that the driver seemed to be hiding something. It struck me as curious and put me on alert. That lasted a few second. I saw a metallic object and then I heard the noise. I crossed the avenue and reached my place of work."
Sandoval, who was cared for by the Committee of the Families of Detainees and Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH) after yesterday's shooting, has been covering purges within the police and land conflicts in the Bajo Aguán region.
Her case is similar to that of Karla Zelaya, a journalist who was kidnapped and tortured last November, and directly threatened because of her coverage of peasant protests.
"Despite our repeated appeals, Karla Zelaya never got the protection she should have received," Reporters Without Borders said. "We also drew attention to the danger being run by Itsmania Pineda Platero, a journalist and human rights activist who was supposedly being 'protected' by the police she had implicated in cases of corruption and abuse of authority.
"What will Fidelina Sandoval's fate now be? The secretary of state for justice and the High Commissioner for Human Rights must, as a matter of urgency, put protective measures in place that are appropriate for journalists, as their security is not in any way guaranteed."
The major programme of "purges" of the police that the government began in November 2011 as part of Operation "Relámpago" (Lightning) has unfortunately not resulted in resolution of the major human rights violations by the security forces and has not rendered justice to the victims.
The programme will not succeed without being accompanied by the disarmament of the privately-owned militias that are very active in regions with land disputes and mining disputes, and are guilty of violations.
The head of the Zacate Grande Peninsula Development Association (ADEPZA) and founder of the community radio station La Voz de Zacate Grande, Pedro Canales, is still being targeted by businessman landowner Miguel Facussé Barjum's henchmen. Will the police and judicial authorities ever question Facussé about the paramilitary methods used by his employees?
Particular attention must be paid not only to vulnerable local community radio stations in the Bajo Aguán and Zacate Grande regions but now also in the departments of Valle and Choluteca, where local communities are protesting against mining.