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Honduras “world’s most dangerous country for journalists”

April 2, 2010

Reporters Without Borders have described Honduras as “the world’s most dangerous country for journalists in the first quarter of 2010” after a spate of attacks last month left five journalists dead, one wounded and one in exile.

“We are unable to provide you with protection,” local police told José Alemán according to the press freedom group. Alemán, a correspondent for Tiempo, a Honduran daily newspaper, had reported violations of freedom of expression and human rights since the country’s political stability was shaken by a military coup d’etat in June 2009. Reporters Without Borders reports that Alemán fled Honduras after gunmen opened fire on his home and chased him through the streets of San Marcos.

Alemán was fortunate to escape. Joseph Hernandez Ochoa, David Meza, Nahúm Palacios Arteaga, José Bayardo Mairena and Manuel Juarez were all murdered in March.

“There can be no doubt that we face one of the most tragic moments in the history of the Latin American press” declared Alejandro Aguirre, President of the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA). Peter Kent, the Canadian Minister for Foreign Affairs (Americas) also condemned the violence and added “Canada calls on the Honduran authorities to promptly and thoroughly investigate these crimes and prosecute those responsible.”

Despite censure of the violence by many groups in the human rights community, this Huffington Post article indicates that the situation on Honduras may not garner the mainstream media attention it warrants. Also Telesur, a South American news agency, has criticized IAPA for overlooking the Honduran issue in favor of “aggression directed at journalists from right wing media.”

Aguirre has previously stated that there is “a siege against the press” in countries allied with the politics of Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez even though Honduras and Mexico, the two countries which have seen the most journalists killed this year, are governed by conservative administrations.

However, former Honduran Human Rights Ombudsman, Leo Valladares suggests the injuries and threats received by Karol Cabrera, a journalist known to be in favor of the coup, affirms that there are “dark forces” at work at both extremes of the political spectrum.

Photo Credit: European Pressphoto Agency

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