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Journalist dismissed after investigating irregularities in social security institute tender process

(C-Libre/IFEX) - On 15 July 2011, journalist Lenis Fajardo was dismissed from her position at the Radio Globo radio station without having been paid her employment benefits, based on instructions given by station owner Alejandro Villatoro.

Fajardo told C-Libre that she was dismissed over an investigation she initiated into the possible irregularities in how pharmaceutical drug tenders were being handled by the Honduran Social Security Institute (IHSS) and a lack of medications for retirees.

The journalist said she was informed that because she had publicised this information, the IHSS was going to suspend its advertising contracts with the radio station and that she was to blame. She said the coordinator of the Radio Globo morning programme had asked her to conduct the IHSS investigation and that she was simply carrying out her duties as a journalist.

On many occasions, Fajardo has risked her own safety to cover news about protests in favour of deposed president Manuel Zelaya for the radio station. In the course of her work, Fajardo has been subjected to physical and psychological mistreatment by the police.

Fajardo said the journalists at Radio Globo carry out their work under difficult circumstances since the company that owns the station fails to comply with the Honduran labour code. "We don't get vacations, all the salary we are owed, bonuses, statutory holidays, social security, pay for extra hours worked or even weekends off," she said. The radio station's administrator, Héctor López, told C-Libre that Fajardo had been given 15 days of vacation. When C-Libre requested documentation demonstrating this, López said that the information would have to be obtained from Villatoro. C-Libre asked to speak to Villatoro about Fajardo's dismissal but was told he was in an important meeting.

(Please note this is an abridged translation.)

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