December 19, 2011
Porfirio Lobo Sosa
President of the Republic of Honduras
Dear President Lobo:
The Committee to Protect Journalists is writing to express its deep concern about the unrelenting violence against the Honduran press. Our letter to you is prompted by events earlier this month that once again highlight the extraordinary risks that Honduran journalists must take simply to do their jobs.
Since the 2009 ouster of President Manuel Zelaya, many journalists have continuously reported being attacked. According to CPJ research, 13 journalists have been killed during your term, at least three of them in direct reprisal for their work. But the systematic failure of Honduran authorities to investigate these crimes and your administration’s unwillingness to take action has frustrated any attempt to solve these murders. CPJ continues to investigate whether the other 10 cases were work-related.
Reporters and media facilities continue to be subject to attacks. In a one-week period beginning in early December, the offices of leading daily La Tribuna were shot up by gunmen and radio host Luz Marina Paz Villalobos was murdered. When members of the press staged a protest calling for justice in these attacks, they were beaten and tear gassed by soldiers and law enforcement officers, according to press reports.
A 2010 CPJ special report found that your government has been slow and negligent in pursuing journalists’ killers. As a result, many journalists fear the murders have been conducted with the tacit approval, or even outright complicity, of police, armed forces, or other authorities.
Amid a politically charged atmosphere of violence and lawlessness, your government’s inability to guarantee the safety of journalists or successfully investigate crimes against the press is hindering the coverage of sensitive issues while putting democracy at risk. The fact that journalists protesting this record of fecklessness and indifference should be subject to government repression including tear gassing compounds the outrage.
We urge you to ensure that these murders and all crimes against the press are investigated, and the perpetrators brought to justice so that journalists can work freely without fear of reprisal.
Thank you for your attention to these important matters. We look forward to your response.