ARTICLE 19 recorded a total of 32 recommendations focused explicitly on the right to freedom of expression and the safety of journalists and human rights defenders during the UPR of Honduras. The significant number of recommendations made on this issue serves as a testament to the severe and systemic violence faced by civil society actors in Honduras.
We note how Honduras has implemented a Law for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, Journalists, Social Communicators and Justice Operators. However, between 2001 and 2020, 80 journalists were murdered, mostly with complete impunity.
In addition, were are deeply alarmed by the use of harassment, smear campaigns, criminalisation and physical attacks against journalists who work in mainstream media and community communication projects.
We particularly welcome recommendations to ensure the effectiveness of the National Protection Mechanism. We are concerned over the ongoing lack of resources and personnel assigned to this mechanism, dramatically reducing the possibility of it alleviating the widespread violence faced by journalists.
ARTICLE 19 is also concerned with provisions that undermine freedom of expression and journalistic work in the Penal Code of 2020. This includes ambiguous and overbroad classification of crimes, such as slander, libel, illicit meetings and demonstrations, disturbance of order, and criminal and terrorist association. These provisions have proven to have a significant chilling effect, forcing many journalists or individuals expressing dissent into self-censorship over fears of reprisal.
ARTICLE 19 urges Honduras to accept all recommendations related to the right to freedom of expression and the safety of journalists and human rights defenders, including to strengthen the justice system and other vital institutions, such as the National Protection Mechanism and Prosecutor’s Office.
We call on Honduras to make all necessary legislative and administrative reforms, and also provide human, financial and material resources, to grant effective protection to journalists and human rights defenders. This is the first step in combating the high levels of crimes with impunity in Honduras.