A group of United Nations human rights experts today urged the Honduran Government to take immediate action to end violence against journalists in the Central American country where, they said, seven media professionals have been killed during the past six weeks, and several others have been threatened.
“We urge the Government to take all necessary measures to thoroughly investigate these killings and threats, prosecute those responsible, and ensure the physical and psychological integrity of all journalists under threat,” the independent experts said in a statement issued in Geneva.
“In particular, we call upon the Government to establish an independent inquiry aimed at shedding light on these issues, as well as at identifying measures that could be taken to better protect journalists and prevent the occurrence of such acts in the future,” they added.
Journalists José Bayardo Mairena Ramírez, Manuel Juárez, Nahun Palacios Arteaga, David Meza Motesinos, Joseph Hernández Ochoa, Luis Antonio Chévez Hernández and Jorge Orellana were killed recently “while exercising their legitimate right to freedom of opinion and expression,” the UN Special Rapporteurs said.
They said several journalists continued to receive death threats, despite precautionary measures ordered by the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights to protect journalists in Honduras.
“Journalists play a critical role in strengthening human rights through their work,” the independent experts said. “Silencing them not only curtails freedom of opinion and expression, but also jeopardizes the enjoyment of all rights and freedoms of society as a whole,” they added.
The experts called on Honduran authorities to “take all necessary steps to protect the right to life and secure the right to freedom of opinion and expression of all persons,” citing the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
“The international community will closely scrutinize the response of the Government to this tragic situation,” said the group, comprising Frank la Rue, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the rights to freedom of opinion and expression; Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on summary, extrajudicial or arbitrary executions; and Margaret Sekaggya, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.