By Andrew Messamore*
A controversial state secrecy law quietly passed by Honduran lawmakers last week was suspended Friday Jan. 17 after strong backlash from civil society groups including Reporters Without Borders, who said the law unduly restricted freedom of information.
The law gave Honduran President Porfirio Lobo and his ministers the authority to restrict access to sensitive public information for "security interests." La Prensa reported that it authorized the president to withhold documents for up to 25 years.
On a joint press conference last Thursday, transparency NGO Civil Society Group and 15 other organizations denounced the law as "a setback in the fight against corruption… and interrupting a process to be a more open and transparent state," reported The Guardian.
According to La Prensa, criticism from the NGOs caused lawmakers to suspend the law and "review various items in conflict" with Honduran transparency policy. However, government intelligence chief Julian Pacheco continues to defend the bill as necessary to protect government officials, reported The Guardian.
The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) applauded the move for suspension but stated it would continue to closely follow the law as it is revised.
In 2012, Honduras had the highest rate of journalists killed per capita in the region. Concerns over issues of press freedom in the country have increased recently.
*Andrew Messamore is a student in the class "Journalism in Latin America" at the University of Texas at Austin.
Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.