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AMARC concerned over restrictions against two radio journalists

(AMARC/IFEX) - On 14 January 2011, an Amapala judge issued an order imposing a number of restrictions on Elia Hernández and Elba Yolibeth Rubio, members of the community radio station La Voz de Zacate Grande, and twelve other individuals.

Hernández and Rubio had been detained while a family was being evicted from the Coyolito community, in Isla de Zacate Grande, southern Honduras. Local residents who came to the aid of the evicted family faced off against the armed forces and the HSBC bank's security personnel. Even though the journalists identified themselves as members of the press, they were detained and assaulted.

The prosecution later referred to the journalists' press passes, their cameras and tape recorders as "evidence" that the journalists were present at the eviction site when they accused them of disobeying the authorities.

There were a number of irregularities in the process. Nevertheless, the authorities dismissed an appeal for the annulment of the case filed by the Committee for the Relatives of the Detained or Disappeared in Honduras (Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras, Cofadeh), and the journalists' trial went ahead.

The Amapala judge decreed that Hernández and Rubio:
- will not be able to leave the country,
- are banned from having contact with the Coyolito community
- will have to appear before the court every 15 days
- and are banned from participating in public demonstrations.

AMARC expressed concern over these measures calling them an attack on freedom of expression, as they would prevent the journalists' ability to carry out their profession. On 19 January, the defense filed an appeal against the measures.

According to AMARC, this is part of a recent pattern of criminal persecution against journalists and members of community radio stations in Honduras.

AMARC urged the authorities to put an end to the legal harassment of La Voz de Zacate Grande and those affiliated with the community radio station.

(Please note this is an abridged translation.)

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