Honduran president promises to solve killings of journalists, improve protection of reporters

Honduran President Porfirio Lobo promised to crack the unsolved cases of killed journalists, and decriminalize libel and slander during the "Security, Protection and Solidarity for Freedom of Expression" conference organized by the Inter American Press Association and the Honduran Association of News Media, reported the EFE news agency on Thursday, Aug. 9.

United Nations Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression Frank La Rue also attended the conference. La Rue called for harsher sentencing for attacks on the press, as well as the creation of a specialized task force including a special prosecutor, and special judges and investigators trained to handle press freedom cases, reported the newspaper La Prensa.

President Lobo's proposals follow the steps taken by many other Latin American countries to protect the press, including physically protecting journalists in Colombia, Mexico's strategy of making it a federal crime to attack journalists, as well as requesting support from the United Nations to advance investigations and reduce impunity, according to the newspaper La Tribuna.

Human Rights Commissioner Ramón Custodio proposed a ban on carrying firearms, considering that 28 of the 31 journalists killed in Honduras were shot to death, and cleaning up corrupt police forces in the Central American country's most dangerous departments. These same departments have the highest number of killed journalists: nine in Francisco Morazán, seven in Cortés, four in Atlántida, and two each in Copán and Colón, reported La Tribuna.

Honduras is the second most-dangerous country in the Americas to practice journalism, with a score of reporters killed since 2009.

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.