Honduras | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Honduras

Honduras

Freedom of the Press 2005

2005 Scores

Press Status

Partly Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)

51

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

22

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

15

Freedom of speech and of the press is constitutionally protected, and the government generally does not restrict these rights. However, criminal defamation laws continue to impede freedom of expression. Article 345 of the penal code mandates a two- to four- year jail term for defamation, slander, or insulting a public official. Following a research mission, the Organization of American States' special rapporteur for freedom of expression, Eduardo Bertoni, urged the government of Honduras to repeal laws that penalize journalists and others who criticize public officials. At least seven journalists have been charged over the past two years for reporting on public officials. For example, in February 2004 Renato Alvarez, host of the television debate program "Frente a Frente" (Face to Face), was convicted of criminal defamation for reading segments of a government report linking public officials and businessmen to drug trafficking.

Threats and attacks against journalists have increased, with most following reports of organized crime or public officials involved in corruption. In October, the offices of the Tegucigalpa-based daily La Tribuna were fired on by police officers following a series on organized crime inside the country's largest jail. Several days later, the security minister, Oscar Alvarez Guerrero, said an investigation had established that a uniformed police officer "accidentally" fired at the offices while cleaning his gun, an account that contradicted witness statements. In March, Edgardo Castro of the Canal 6 television station was shot and injured in the city of San Pedro Sula by an unknown assailant presumed to be connected to organized crime after the journalist had reported on local gangs. Miguel de Arriba, a Spanish economist and local resident, was deported under a law forbidding foreigners from commenting on national politics after the Spaniard posted articles on the Internet condemning government corruption.

Media ownership is concentrated in the hands of a few powerful business conglomerates with intersecting political and economic ties, and this has led to self-censorship. Corruption among journalists also had an impact on reporting. Examples include government officials and private organizations distributing large cash prizes to individual reporters on Journalists Day, as well as the practice by public officials of employing journalists in high-paying public relations positions. The government and the president of the Congress (also a presidential candidate) frequently make use of the Cadena Nacional, the power to preempt all radio and television programming for official broadcasts.