GENEVA (10 May 2010) – A group of UN human rights experts* called upon the Honduran Government to take urgent action to address the increasing vulnerability faced by journalists operating in the country. In the past six weeks, seven journalists have been killed, and several others have been threatened, reportedly for their activities in defence of human rights in the country.
“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 threats,” the independent experts said. “In particular, we call upon the Government to establish an independent inquiry aimed at shedding lights 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”.
Journalists José Bayardo Mairena Ramírez, Manuel Juárez, Nahun Palacios Arteaga, David Meza Motesinos, Joseph Hernández Ochoa, Luis Antonio Chévez Hernández and Jorge Orellana “recently lost their lives while exercising their legitimate right to freedom of opinion and expression,” stressed the UN Special Rapporteurs.
Several journalists continue 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.”
“We call on the 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, including journalists and human rights activists, in accordance with articles 6 and 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” the Special Rapporteurs said. “The international community will closely scrutinize the response of the Government to this tragic situation.”
(*) Mr. Frank la Rue, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the rights to freedom of opinion and expression; Mr. Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on summary, extrajudicial or arbitrary executions; and Ms. Margaret Sekaggya, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.
Check the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/ccpr.htm