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Honduras approves special protections for rights activists, journalists

April 16, 2015

Honduras’ Congress has passed a law offering special protections to journalists, human right activists and judicial workers operating in a country with the world’s highest murder rate.

The measure was unanimously approved late Wednesday by 128 deputies across seven parties. President Juan Orlando Hernandez must sign the law for it to go into force.

Violence-plagued Honduras has seen the murder of 53 journalists killed since 2003 and 94 legal professionals and human rights advocates since 2010.

The law would establish a panel under the ministry of justice and human rights to investigate threats against journalists, rights activists or judicial workers.

The panel would then decide on appropriate steps to protect the persons at risk, even arranging to send them out of the country if necessary.

Honduras is due to report in May to the UN Human Right Council in Geneva, which had recommended it do more to protect these groups.

An estimated 90 percent of crimes go unpunished in Honduras, which has the highest murder rate in the world of 68 murders per every 100,000 people, according to the Violence Observatory at the National Autonomous University of Honduras.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.