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Honduran journalist prevented from testifying at Inter-American Commission

This statement was originally published on pen-international.org on 21 October 2015.

The Honduran government has yet again displayed a fundamental lack of respect for freedom of expression and for the authority of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), PEN International said today. Authorities denied journalist Julio Ernesto Alvarado permission to leave Honduras to attend a meeting on his case convened by the IACHR.

Today's meeting in Washington DC will discuss the Honduran state's failure to comply with the IACHR's 2014 order to suspend a ban preventing Alvarado from working as a journalist for 16 months. The ban is part of a criminal conviction handed down as a result of a protracted defamation law suit brought against Alvarado by a public official in 2006.

'The point of today's meeting between the IACHR, the Honduran government and PEN is to try to find a solution to this impasse via dialogue. Why do the Honduran authorities want to exclude Julio Ernesto Alvarado – the person most affected by this case – from that dialogue?' said Jennifer Clement, President of PEN International.

'Sadly this appears to be yet another attempt by the Honduran government to silence this critical journalist, on the most spurious of charges.'

Alvarado, presenter of the news programme 'Mi Nacion' on Globo TV and a founding member of PEN Honduras, was prevented from boarding his flight to the USA from the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa yesterday morning. The airport authorities informed him that his passport was flagged with a 'migration alert', meaning that he is unable to leave the country due to a court order. When he asked for details, he was told that the court order is connected to an alleged case of identity theft.

The journalist says he is unaware of any such court order and has never encountered any problems travelling abroad before.

'Honduras cannot go on failing its journalists, citizens and the international human rights community and endangering the lives of dozens of journalists who have to self-censor in order to protect themselves, said Dina Meza, President of PEN Honduras.

'Freedom of expression is on its knees as a result, and Hondurans are suffering an irremediable loss of their right to information.'

Alvarado will be represented at the meeting with the IACHR and the Honduran state by Dina Meza, his lawyer Kenia Oliva – also founding members of PEN Honduras – and Tamsin Mitchell, Americas Coordinator for PEN International.

In November 2014 the IACHR granted Alvarado 'precautionary measures' at the request of PEN International and PEN Honduras, ordering the Honduran state to suspend the implementation of Alvarado's 16-month criminal sentence and ban pending investigation of the case by the IACHR.

Alvarado's final appeal against his conviction – which should also have been suspended under the IACHR order – was rejected by the Honduran Supreme Court of Justice on 4 September 2015.

PEN International calls on the Honduran government to implement the precautionary measures granted to Julio Ernesto Alvarado without further delay.

PEN also urges the IACHR to declare Alvarado's case admissible for investigation by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
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