Honduran decree lifted, but broadcasters still shuttered

Three days after the Honduran interim government led by Roberto Micheletti lifted a September 27 decree that allowed them to shut down Radio Globo and Canal 36, broadcasters loyal to ousted President Manuel Zelaya, the two stations were still prevented from resuming normal transmissions, according to local and international news reports. 

On Monday, Honduras’ interim government revoked the controversial decree, which curbed constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties. The de facto government argued that the emergency decree was intended to prevent unrest among Zelaya supporters. The former president was overthrown in a June 28 coup.

Radio Globo resumed broadcasting online a day after the government shuttered the station by force, but Canal 36 remains off the air. The government has not yet returned equipment seized from either outlet. Micheletti said on Monday that in order to resume broadcasting the stations “will have to come to the courts to recover their right to be on the air,” The Associated Press reported.

Local journalists and press freedom activists said they thought the outlets would reestablish operations after the decree was lifted, but now nobody knows when will that happen. Esdras Amado López, owner of Canal 36, described the decree’s repeal as a “lie aimed at deceiving the international community,” AP reported. 

The state of press freedom in Honduras has worsened since Zelaya was overthrown, according to CPJ research. Honduran security forces shut down local broadcasters, blocked transmissions of international news networks, and briefly detained journalists in the aftermath of the coup. As political tensions, protests, and violence have intensified, coverage has been skewed at times. Unidentified assailants have attacked media outlets and harassed journalists covering both sides of the crisis. The offices of the national daily El Heraldo were attacked by unidentified assailants on August 15. A broadcast journalist was shot dead on July 4; CPJ is investigating whether his death is linked to the political crisis or to his reporting.