Karla Rivas

Honduras, October 20, 2011
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Karla Rivas (R) with Catherine Antoine at the National Press Club in Washington DC on October 20, 2011. © DoLinh Studio

Radio Progreso news editor Karla Rivas paid tribute Thursday to the 16 journalists killed in her native Honduras since a 2009 military coup as she received the Peter Mackler Award for courageous and ethical journalism.

The 33-year-old Rivas — the first woman to receive the award named for an Agence France-Presse (AFP) reporter and editor who died three years ago — said journalists in Honduras faced “mortal danger” doing their jobs.

Speaking at a ceremony at the National Press Club in Washington, Rivas read off the names of the 16 journalists who have died since the coup and called for their killers to be brought to justice.

“Their deaths are under a shadow of impunity based on the law of the strongest,” she said.

The event was broadcast live to Honduras over Radio Progreso’s airwaves.

Clothilde Le Coz, US director for Reporters Without Borders, which bestowed the award along with Global Media Forum, a journalism training company founded by Mackler, praised Rivas and Radio Progreso for “daring to go out there every day to ask the questions no one else wants to.”

“Honduras is definitely not a country where you simply tweet what is going on,” Le Coz said.

Michael Camilleri, senior legal advisor to the special rapporteur for freedom of expression at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, also lauded the courage of Rivas and her colleagues at the Jesuit-run radio station.

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Karla Rivas (R) speaking through an interpretor listed the names of the 16 reporters murdered in Honduras over the last two years. © DoLinh Studio

(Rivas) became a vocal opponent of the military’s tactics and continues to defend Radio Progreso’s right to broadcast uncensored information, he said.

“Karla Rivas and her colleagues at Radio Progreso dare to tell inconvenient truths that affect the lives of ordinary Hondurans,” Camilleri said.

The Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism was founded in June 2008 to honor the memory of Mackler, who died of a heart attack that month at the age of 58.

Mackler worked at AFP for more than 30 years. He also founded Global Media Forum, which has helped to train journalists and non-profit organizations to use the media as a tool for social change.

The prize in his memory rewards journalists who fight courageously and ethically to report the news in countries where freedom of the press is either not guaranteed or not recognized.

Agence-France Presse

Karla Rivas – Discurso de aceptación