Reporters Without Borders calls on the Honduran authorities to provide protection to three TV journalists in the northwestern city of San Pedro Sula – Yanina Romero, Carlos Rodríguez and Lourdes Ramírez – who have been getting telephone death threats ever since they reported alleged corruption at a local hospital in early July.
The three journalists, who work for KTV, began investigating at Mario Catarino Rivas Hospital after being told about suspicious deaths of patients there. Their report suggested that certain members of the medical staff may have deliberately caused the deaths of patients for the purpose of organ trafficking or commissions from funeral companies.
The persons making the threatening calls have identified themselves as doctors or nurses at the hospital, although the hospital’s public relations service has ruled out any possibility that the callers are members of its staff. Several persons have also appeared outside KTV’s premises with an apparently intimidatory intention.
“KTV’s staff must be provided with protection as quickly as possible,” said Camille Soulier, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Americas desk. “The authorities must take these threats very seriously so that Romero, Rodríguez and Ramírez do not join the list of 37 journalists killed since the 2009 coup."
“The government must, as a matter of urgency, heed the recommendations of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which says threatened journalists must be given protection.”
The level of threats and harassment to which journalists are exposed continues to be very worrying in Honduras.
Ricardo Oviedo, the producer of a current affairs programme called “Frente al pueblo, ante la audiencia” on Canal 27 TV, has also been getting death threats. In Oviedo’s case, the threats have been made live on the air by callers using the programme’s phone-in number.
“You’ve understood nothing and if carry on, we’ll have your hide,” one caller said. Oviedo was already forced to flee the country for a while, in 2010.
Dina Meza, the Reporters Without Borders correspondent in Honduras, is still constantly being threatened despite her repeated requests to the interior ministry for protection. She has written twice to the authorities but neither letter has received a reply.
Honduras is ranked 129th out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.