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Urgent action: Honduras does not afford rights to journalists

September 16, 2011

COFADEHThe following alert is based on information from the Committee for the Families of the Detained and Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH).

COFADEH expresses its outrage and concern for the violation of rights carried out against journalists, social communicators, and especially for the safety of Mario Castro Rodríguez, director of the “Whip Against Corruption” (Látigo Contra la Corrupción) program, transmitted two hours each day by Globo TV.

Since September 8, threats against the life and physical safety of Castro have intensified. Over this period he has received 70 text messages on his cell phone threatening him with death, including: “It is magnificent that they kill pigs,” a message that was sent five times; “It would be best if they take you all out” and “You old fool, I hope they kill you all,” which was repeated three times; and “Hahaha, they are killing the pinkos, you idiot” which was repeated seven times.

In May 2010, Mario Castro and his brother Edgardo entered into the protection program provided the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) by because their criticisms had been the object of surveillance and Mario Castro had been subject of persecution. On three occasions Mario Castro had been followed by a white, double-cab vehicle, with tinted windows, no license plates, and broken right rear-view mirror. The vehicle waited for him to leave the TV station for his home after 8 pm.  On one occasion the occupants rolled down the window so that Castro could see that there were four people in the vehicle, with black ski masks. One passenger in the front seat mimed the act of shooting Castro with his thumb and forefinger. The subjects in the vehicle were carrying firearms.

Since then, his program has taken on critical themes such as security, the performance of top police officials, and also denounced the distortion of the truth and the media control that some security officials have taken regarding human rights violations and murders of various people, such as in the case of Bajo Aguan.

Those who exercise their freedom of expression and the right of society to be informed, consecrated in the Constitution and provided in international human rights law, are currently facing aggression, intimidation, and are being stalked by the powers that be. Crimes against journalists and the escalation of violence against freedom of expression across the country have reached intolerable levels that have never before been seen in Honduras. Since 2009, 15 journalists have been murdered, 25 journalists have received death threats, 14 have suffered illegal detention, four have been kidnapped and tortured, and 37 have been assaulted, among others.

In Honduras there are structures and threats that restrict freedom of expression, in large parts of the country, among the most serious are the political censorship and organized crime. The latter has led to self-censorship as a legitimate way to preserve the safety of journalists in the absence of state action to impose exemplary punishments for crimes against journalists and guarantee freedom of expression.

COFADEH asks the national and international community to:

  • Publicly condemn the intimidation of journalists and demand that the Honduran state commit to protecting the members of this profession;
  • Request immediate action to bring about all necessary protection for Mario Castro, in accordance with his wishes;
  • Request an urgent, exhaustive, and impartial investigation about the activities that have put Mario Castro’s life at risk; as well as investigate the homicides of the 15 journalists, and the threats against other journalists, make their results public and bring those responsible to justice.
  • Demand that all the protection orders dictated by the Inter-American Human Rights Commission be implemented in favor of the journalists at risk.

Send appeals, concerns, and demands to:

Jorge Alberto Rivera Avilés
President of the Supreme Court of Justice
Tel (504) 2269-3000  // (504) 2269-3069

Luis Alberto Rubí
General Prosecutor for the Republic of Honduras.
Fax (504) 2221-5667
Tel (504) 2221-5670 // (504) 2221-3099

And copy (cc):

Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras (COFADEH)
Barrio La Plazuela, Avenida Cervantes, Casa No. 1301
Apartado Postal 1243
Tegucigalpa, Honduras
Fax: (504) 2220 1528

Also send copies to the accredited diplomatic representative of Honduras in your country.

From IACHR: José Edgardo Castro Rodríguez, journalist, according to information received, had been detained July 30, 2009 by the police and members of the military in the Comayagua sector, and had been beaten and subjected to pepper spray in the eyes while he was handcuffed. The information indicated that in addition, on August 3, he had been intercepted in his own vehicle by police who hit the car, broke the windows of the vehicle, and took him to the police station in San Pedro Sula, where he was released four hours later. According to documentation from the Public Ministry, an investigation has been opened against the members of the police forces and members of the military for alleged illegal detention and torture at the expense of the beneficiary [Mr. Castro Rodriguez]. We were subsequently informed that Castro Rodriguez has reportedly been subjected to continuous acts of harassment since he filed the torture complaint.


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