Honduran journalist told he would be found “in a ditch”

March 12, 2015

Honduran journalists take part in a vigil in memory of journalists killed in Honduras. (ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP/GettyImages)
Honduran journalists take part in a vigil in memory of journalists killed in Honduras. (ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP/GettyImages)

On January 24, a high-ranking military official told Honduran journalist César Omar Silva Rosales that he would be found “in a ditch, gagged and with yellow legs” if he continued to produce unfavorable coverage of the military. Even more shocking, the official made this threat directly to the journalist’s face as he was trying to cover a congressional session on military policy. Amnesty International has issued an urgent action in this case.

Unfortunately, Honduran journalists have good reason to take such threats seriously. In April 2014, for example, Amnesty issued an urgent action following the murder of Radio Progreso journalist Carlos Mejía. In fact, as many as 32 media workers have been killed in Honduras during the past five years. Furthermore, Silva Rosales has previously turned to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) following an abduction. According to the IACHR:

The request for precautionary measures alleges that journalist Silva Rosales was kidnapped on December 28, 2009, by three armed individuals and that they interrogated him every 10 minutes over a period of approximately 24 hours, during which time he was mistreated, beaten, and threatened with death. The request indicates that he was freed in the vicinity of the Cerro Grande neighborhood, in eastern Tegucigalpa, a place used in the 1980s as a dumping ground for bodies.

The IACHR called upon the Honduran government to take the necessary steps to protect Silva Rosales, guarantee his right to freedom of expression, and investigate the abduction.

Silva Rosales’ case is not unique. In December, 2014, Amnesty International issued a new report on abuses against journalists and other human rights defenders (HRDs) in the Americas, including cases from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela. Amnesty found, “the reality of many human rights defenders in Latin America and the Caribbean is frightening. Human rights defenders remain at very high risk, and the response of the States of the region still falls short.”

In addition to providing details of several cases of abuses against human rights defenders in Honduras, the report also emphasized the failure of the Honduran Congress to pass a proposed Law of Protection for Human Rights Defenders, Journalists, Media Commentators and Legal Officers.  Amnesty noted that “the institutions that could currently offer protection do not have the necessary training, adequate resources or public confidence.”

Please take action and urge Honduran authorities to protect Silva Rosales, investigate the threat against him, and ensure freedom of expression for all journalists!