Reporters Without Borders denounced Tuesday the judicial harassment of news professionals in Honduras, asserting that journalists are being prosecuted for giving voice to minorities and reporting on subjects the authorities want to keep hidden.
The Paris-based watchdog group known by the French initials RSF pointed to the sedition case involving 36 members of the Honduran Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations, or COPINH.
Among those facing charges are Radio Progreso journalist Albertina Manueles Perez and a number of correspondents of COPINH-affiliated community radio stations.
In the majority of cases, RSF said in a statement, they are accused of inciting protests and undermining the internal security of the state, though many of those reporters have in fact covered corruption scandals and other subjects the government finds inconvenient.
“This judicial harassment of ‘social communicators’ and civil society organizations is indicative of a desire on the part of the authorities to restrict free speech,” the head of RSF’s Americas desk, Camille Soulier, said.
“We call for the withdrawal of all the charges in this case,” she added.
The case opened against the COPINH group comes amid this week’s abduction and murder of Honduran television journalist Herlyn Espinal, RSF noted.
“Reporters Without Borders urges the authorities to do everything possible to shed light on Espinal’s murder,” Soulier said. “A thorough, independent investigation must be carried out as quickly as possible, as it should with all the other media workers murdered in Honduras.”
Honduran authorities’ “dangerous tendency to rule out any link with the victim’s work makes it easier to silence critics with complete impunity,” she said.