Reporters Without Borders

Restrictions imposed in absence of any guilty finding

Restrictions imposed in absence of any guilty finding

Published on Thursday 20 January 2011.
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Community media are continuing to come under pressure from the authorities in Honduras following the temporary closing of the Garifuna (African-origin community) radio station Radio Faluma Bimetu, on 14 January at Tela in the north of the country.

On the same day Elia Xiomara Hernández and Elba Yolibeth Rubio, correspondents for the La Voz de Zacate Grande station appeared before a court in Amapala in the south of the country and were subjected to a ridiculous control order limiting their freedom although there was no finding of their guilt on any basic charge.

The two women had been arrested with 12 other people by the security forces on 15 December last during an eviction operation in the community of Coyolito on the Zacate Grande peninsula.

The court in Amapala was initially due to pass judgment on 11 January on charges of sedition and civil disobedience even though the women were only carrying out their professional duties. Without ruling on that point or giving a finding on the basic charges the court ordered the defendants to be placed under legal controls.

These were:
- a ban on leaving the country;

- a requirement to seek legal authority to leave Coyolito;

- the necessity to appear before a judge every 15 days;

- a ban on taking part in public demonstrations.

A further prohibition, on entering into contact with the community of Coyolito, was also imposed.

“We call for the cancellation of these gagging measures which trample both the freedom to inform and to come and go,” Reporters Without Borders says today.

The fault of the journalists is that they belong to a media outlet that gives a voice to an oppressed community. La Voz de Zacate Grande had already been silenced by a major police and military operation in June 2010. The criminalization of community media has become standard practice since the coup d’état of 28 June 2009.

Video of the 3 June 2010 operation:



18.01.11 - Torched radio station forced off air by threats

Threats from local authorities and security forces, which tried to take over its management, forced a local radio station in Honduras temporarily to stop broadcasting on 14 January.

The station, Radio Faluma BimetuRadio Coco Dulce in Spanish - belongs to the Honduran community of African origin (Garifuna) of Triunfo de la Cruz.

A delegation from the municipality of Tela, backed by police officers, turned up at the community on 12 January to impose a new, hand-picked board of management (patronato).

The community of Triunfo de la Cruz had already planned a vote on 28 January to designate its future representatives. When the community refused to recognize the procedure, threats were made to burn the station down.

The threat was a reminder of the arson attack that destroyed the station on 6 January 2010.

With the support of the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) and International Media Support (IMS), Reporters Without Borders gave its backing to the rebuilding of Radio Faluma Bimetu (listen also : http://www.agenciapulsar.org/audios...).

The Garifuna community has long been opposed to construction projects in the Atlantic region and has made its hostility clear through its small local media. The attacks on Radio Faluma Bimetu have intensified since the coup d’état of 28 June 2009.

Alfredo López, one of its leading figures was held by the army and police on 12 August 2009.

All social and community movements and those expressing backing for them have experienced the same treatment, in disregard of the American Human Rights Convention and the injunctions of the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).

For example on 5 January two men dressed as electricity service technicians broke into the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (Copinh) at La Esperanza (northwest of the capital Tegucigalpa). They threatened those present and claiming to be acting under a contract with the government of Honduras cut off power to the building.

The community stations Guarajambala and La Voz Lenca immediately went off the air. In the region of Zacate Grande in the south of the country there is continuing harassment of the local radio station of the same name and of the community on which it depends as a result of a conflict with the agro-industrial magnate Miguel Facussé Barjum.

“The struggle against impunity involves not only light being shed on the 10 killings of journalists in 2010, as the government recently announced, while the results are slow to emerge, “ Reporters Without Borders said Tuesday.

“It also demands a real protection for minority media and their representatives, in particular the victims of reprisals linked to the coup d’état. The frequencies of sabotaged community radio stations must be restored without delay. ”

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