Organizations denounce government harassment against two Honduran journalists in recent months

By Alex Phillips*

International organizations are condemning the increased government harassment of two Honduran journalists, Julio Ernesto Alvarado and Dina Meza, in recent months.

Alvarado is the director of the well-known TV station Radio Globo while Meza is an independent journalist and human rights defender in Honduras. They have been under close surveillance since late January 2014 after Alvarado was charged with “alleged criminal defamation.” Meza was threatened for defending him, according to PEN International.

According to the organization, unidentified military men have been stalking Meza. She has also received threatening phone calls and text messages in the past. Several journalism and human rights groups have called authorities to provide her protection.

Alvarado and his family have received multiple death threats via Facebook and have been victim to several attempted killings that have yet to be investigated. Honduran police and military are suspected to have been involved, PEN International said.

Alvarado was accused of defaming a university dean in 2006 and has been suffering persecution since that time.  A 16-month imprisonment sentence for Alvarado is currently pending while the Honduran government assesses the criminal charges against him.

The UN, OSCE, PEN International, and other international organizations believe that “all criminal defamation laws should be abolished and replaced, where necessary, with appropriate civil defamation laws,” PEN International said.

Although Honduras is one of the most dangerous country in the Americas for journalists, an effort is being made by such international organizations to protect free speech in the country.

*Alex Phillips 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.