Honduras is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists. Between January 2001 and March 2019, 77 people linked to the media were murdered (according to data from the National Commissioner for Human Rights).
Crimes against journalists affect not only on the journalist themselves but the wider community of media professionals. Violence against those who speak out also has a knock-on effect on citizens who intend to report abuses of power, violating fundamental rights and restricting freedom of expression at a national level. This can only be addressed by confronting structural violence against journalists and those defending the right to freedom of expression.
"90% of the press is being co-opted by the government. In exchange for payments journalists are silenced and do not tell the truth. Truth is not considered important in Honduras. We raise different issues that bother the government – that upset it – and from there persecutions begin."
- Javier Hidalgo, independent journalist from southern Honduras
Defending journalists in Honduras
PBI's international presence on the ground provides moral and political support to courageous journalists such as Dina Meza, a celebrated independent journalist from Honduras who was named one of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders by Fortune Magazine in 2018. Dina has spent years investigating and reporting on human rights violations across the country but because the Honduran state actively censors these issues, she is unable to publish in mainstream media. Dina has faced daily harassment and intimidation, threats of sexual violence against her and her daughter, and gender-related stigma for the work she carries out.
"I would like to thank PBI for their protection and accompaniment during my human rights work.
Without their protection, I believe my name would be on a forgotten tomb."
- Dina Meza, Journalist and Human Rights Defender
As the human rights situation worsens, and restrictions on journalists continue to tighten, PBI are highlighting the phenomenal work of independent journalists such as Dina Meza. To celebrate their remarkable contribution to global democracy, PBI have worked with the filmmaker Manu Valcarce to produce a short film on media freedom in Honduras:
The UK Government focuses on media freedom
PBI support initiatives for comprehensive preventative strategies for protecting journalists and human rights defenders, in Honduras and across the world. We welcome the decision of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to prioritise media freedom this year, and the announcement of the Global Conference for Media Freedom in July, co-hosted by Jeremy Hunt, the UK Foreign Secretary, and Chrystia Freeland, the Canadian Minister for Foreign Affairs. We hope it will be a valuable opportunity to discuss issues that journalists face around the world, ways in which their working environments could be improved, and collective actions that could be taken to enhance their protection.
We invite the UK Government to discuss the reasons behind worldwide attacks against media freedoms, and welcome reflections on the impact of changing attitudes to press freedoms and the protection of human rights defenders internationally. While we welcome the pledge to focus on media freedom this year, we must see these priorities translated into concrete improvements for journalists in Latin America, who live in fear of persecution every day. Accordingly, PBI encourage the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to explicitly support grassroots initiatives that bolster media freedom, and have compiled a set of recommendations for UK foreign policy to be incorporated at the July conference.
Every one of us can and should be a human rights defender. Together, shoulder to shoulder, we can create fairer and more peaceful societies – and defend those who pay terrible prices for doing so. If you share our vision of a world where journalists and human rights defenders are free to protect their rights without fear of reprisals and violence, please donate to our 'Shoulder to Shoulder' campaign.