Miami, March 29, 2019–Honduran police yesterday raided the Tegucigalpa office of Radio Globo and Globo TV and took the station’s director, David Romero Ellner, into custody to serve a 10-year prison sentence for defamation, according to news reports and local press freedom organization C-Libre. Romero took refuge in the station a few days ago, after the Supreme Court in January unanimously upheld a 2016 conviction and a warrant was issued for the journalist’s arrest, according to local press reports.
“The decision that David Romero should serve a 10-year sentence for defamation shows how far Honduras remains from the growing international consensus that such cases have no place in criminal courts,” said CPJ South and Central America Program Coordinator Natalie Southwick from Cartagena, Colombia. “Instead of enforcing outdated laws criminalizing defamation, authorities in Honduras should focus on improving conditions for the press and ensuring all journalists are able to work freely.”
On March 21, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights granted precautionary measures on behalf of Romero, requesting that Honduras not act on the Supreme Court ruling until the commission had decided on the petition filed on the case. In a March 26 statement, the Honduran government said the case was not a freedom of expression issue. Today, the commission condemned Romero’s detention and urged the government to reconsider.