Honduras defies Inter-American Commission and prohibits journalist to work for 16 months

By Eva Hershaw

Honduras has defied the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and decided to uphold an order to ban journalist Julio Ernesto Alvarado from work for 16 months.

The decision, which Reporters Without Borders has called a “slap in the face to freedom of information in Honduras,” was announced in the middle of a visit by the Commission and special rapporteur on freedom of expression to Honduras.

“We firmly condemn this Honduran attempt to ignore the stay requested by the Commission,” said Claire San Filippo, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Americas desk. “Trying to notify Alvarado of the ban on working as a journalist in defiance of the Commission’s ruling at very moment that it is visiting Honduras constitutes a grave affront to the country’s international obligations.”

In November, the IACHR adopted a precautionary measure in favor of Honduran journalist Julio Ernesto Alvarado, calling on the government to abstain from “carrying out any action to disqualify the journalist” until the Commission could reach a decision on the petition it had received on the case.

The precautionary measure and the announcement of defiance by the government come in a long rally of rulings and appealsmade since Julio Ernest Alvarado was accused of defamation for comments made in 2006 about a former dean of the economics department at the Autonomous National University of Honduras on his program “Mi Nación.”

The controversy surrounding the case of Alvarado has served to highlight ongoing concerns over the freedom of the press in Honduras, which has been considered one of the Western Hemisphere’s most dangerous countries for the media since the 2009 coup d’etat.

Freedom House demoted Honduras from “partly free” to “not free” in 2011.

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.