New York, June 26, 2020 – In response to yesterday’s enactment of a new penal code in Honduras that maintains criminal penalties for so-called “crimes against honor,” including insult and slander, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement:
“Honduran lawmakers and President Juan Orlando Hernández had plenty of time to do the right thing and make necessary changes to the new penal code to protect freedom of expression,” said CPJ Central and South Americas Program Coordinator Natalie Southwick. “We are disappointed that Honduras has squandered an opportunity to join the growing regional consensus that civil remedies provide adequate redress for cases of insult and slander, and to stop criminalizing journalism.”
The new penal code, originally announced in May 2019, took effect yesterday after months of delays as amendments were added, according to news reports. Lawmakers had previously announced that the code’s “crimes against honor” would be moved to the civil code, as CPJ documented at the time. The code as passed yesterday does not include the crime of defamation, but does include insult and slander, which remain punishable by fines or up to a year in prison.