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IAPA condemns threats, intimidation launched against media

(IAPA/IFEX) - Miami, November 28, 2011 - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today expressed concern at threats and other acts of intimidation made against media editors and reporters in Honduras and added its support to a request by the National Human Rights Commissioner that the government investigate complaints of such actions so as to ensure the safety of journalists and guarantee freedom of the press.

The Human Rights Commissioner, Ramón Custodio, last week had condemned acts of harassment and threats to reporters and editors with the newspapers El Heraldo and La Tribuna, television channels Televicentro and Globo TV and radio station Radio Globo, media that have reported on corruption in the police force and complained of a lack of transparency in the public administration.

The chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Gustavo Mohme, declared that the organization "repudiates these actions against Honduran journalists and their families, aimed at scaring the press and through intimidation bring about self-censorship in order to prevent compromising information coming out in the press."

Mohme, editor of the Lima, Peru, newspaper La República, added, "The lack of justice and punishment is encouraging greater violence". He echoed the plea made by the Human Rights Commissioner to Honduras' President Porfirio Lobo to have the reports of wrongdoing investigated and who reminded that it is the duty of the government to investigate some 19 still unsolved murders of journalists committed in the Central American country since 2007.

According to reports, El Heraldo reporters and editors have been receiving insults and threats on their cell phones, and on November 21 one of them was followed by a suspicious-looking vehicle that was understood to have been seized by the authorities for having been used in organized crime activities.

On November 20 a reporter with the La Tribuna investigative team escaped uninjured from an attack after being followed by unidentified persons who shot at him several times, as he left the newspaper's offices. The newspaper has also received a number of suspicious calls and one of its editors was detained twice by police between November 9 and 11 and roughed up after identifying himself as a La Tribuna employee. In addition, a photographer covering a court case involving a police officer was threatened by the officer.

Journalist Francisco Hernández, host of a news program broadcast by Radio Globo and Globo TV, reported that he and members of his family had received threats on November 17. The son of journalist Renato Álvarez, director of Telenoticias, was attacked on November 9 at his home by three men who pointed guns at his head. Álvarez had discussed reports of corruption in the police force in his news program.

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