“To practice journalism in a country with high levels of impunity, where they do not investigate crimes, threats, persecution and other forms of repression against journalists is to write with a gun pointed at your head... The situation of freedom of expression in Honduras is under attack and journalists’ deaths are an insult.” Dina Meza at a hearing of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in March 2014.

In early December, Honduran journalist Dina Meza visited London as part of a European speaking tour organised by PBI. Dina Meza is a renowned defender of the rights to freedom of expression and information and the founding President of PEN Honduras. Through this platform, she provides legal, educational and informative accompaniment to journalists and media workers at risk. She also carries out investigative works and has reported on human rights violations in cases such as that of the ongoing agrarian conflict in Bajo Aguán. She currently works independently, denouncing repression and corruption through her online newspaper “Pasos de Animal Grande”. Dina Meza has worked tirelessly to denounce the escalating repression of journalists in Honduras and closure of spaces for freedom of expression, as well as the deterioration of human rights in general.

Dina Meza at the FCO Human Rights Day Reception. Left to Right: Susi Bascon; Director PBI UK, Dina Meza, Tamsin Mitchell; PEN International.

Honduras is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists. According to the IACHR 28 journalists have been killed in Honduras since 2010. 150 have been killed in the whole continent (1). The Committee for Free Expression (C-Libre) reports a total of 61 murders related to journalism since 2003 (2). Several cases have been reported by journalists and members of social organizations criticising the improper use of the courts to limit press freedom. This is the case of Gladys Lanza and Ernesto Alvarado. Dina has been subjected to multiple acts of intimidation, including threats of sexual violence and harassment of her family, forcing her to move house and even to seek exile for five months during 2013.

“Freedom of expression and freedom of information are vital rights, connecting to and underpinning all other rights. In a country where there is little freedom of expression, there will inevitably be violence.” – Dina Meza

During her time in London, Dina met with the All Party Parliamentary Group on Human Rights and representatives of the FCO to discuss the situation for journalists in Honduras. She took part in a Law Society panel event on freedom of expression to mark Human Rights Day, a civil society roundtable and an Amnesty International Write for Rights event.

If the human rights situation in Honduras is to improve, it is crucial that journalists such as Dina are able to continue their struggle to ensure freedom of information in the country without facing threats or attacks.

Civil Society Roundtable meeting
Law Society event on Freedom of Expression
Dina Meza and Tamsin Mitchell in the Houses of Parliament

Footnotes
1 Office of the Special Rapporteur calls for an end to the impunity for crimes against journalists. Washington, D.C., November 2, 2015
2 Honduras: piden esclarecer muerte de 54 periodistas, (Honduras: asked to clarify death of 54 journalists) C- Libre, November 3, 2015.