Telecommunications bill would allow censorship, warns human rights commissioner in Honduras

The Honduran National Commissioner on Human Rights, Ramón Custodio, suggested that a proposed telecommunications bill would enable censorship, violate the right to private property and make the state a content producer, according to the newspaper La Tribuna.

In particular, the commissioner criticized Article 41 of the bill because it criminalizes defamation and slander, prohibits publishing information obtained from another person's communications and punishes content that promotes disrespect for the reputation of others, the public order, public health and the rights of infants, children and adolescents. It also establishes penalties for media organizations that incite "national, racial or religious hate" or materials that "incite violence."

Similarly, the United States' Embassy in Honduras asked the National Congress to defend freedom of expression and the country's press in the bill.

However, the Honduran president defended the telecommunications bill, saying that the proposed law seeks "an equal distribution" of the broadcast spectrum and that if Congress does not pass the reforms he will call for a national plebiscite on the matter in November.  "We are not going to back down from this fight," said President Lobo, according to La Prensa.

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.