Dina Meza is a celebrated independent journalist and defender of freedom of expression. She is the founder and current President of PEN Honduras, an organisation that supports journalists at risk. She is also the founder and editor of the online newspaper ‘Pasos de Animal Grande’ where she publishes information on human rights violation and corruption in Honduras. In addition, Dina provides legal and educational support to at-risk professionals, journalists and social communicators. In 2007, she received the special Amnesty International UK prize for journalists at risk, and in 2014 she was awarded the Oxfam Novib / PEN International Freedom of Expression prize.
Due to Dina Meza’s high public profile and her classification as a dissident, she is unable to publish her work in the mainstream media. The Honduran state is actively censoring issues surrounding human rights abuses and state crimes. For this reason, she uses her online platform to draw attention to state violence against activists and human rights defenders. Her website to reach up to 30,000 hits a month. Her work focuses on supporting women, indigenous populations, youth groups, LGBTI communities and social communicators.
Dina has been involved in many high profile campaigns and actions. Following the contested elections in November 2017, Dina has provided extensive coverage of the excessive use of force by the Honduran state security forces against protesters. In 2016, she carried out in-depth reporting around the murder of high-profile environmental activist, Berta Caceres, and is part of the #Justice4Berta campaign. She also provides a platform to highlight lesser known struggles, particularly rural defenders and indigenous communities defending their land and environment against the devastating effects of economic megaprojects.
Honduras is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for human rights defenders and journalists. Dina faces daily harassment and intimidation. As well as having her phone tapped, she receives regular anonymous threatening phone calls, is followed by cars without number plates, and has armed men coming to her house to intimidate her and her family. Dina has had to move house several times since starting this work. This threatening behaviour led Dina to spend 5 months in exile in 2013. As a woman, Dina faces additional risks, including threats of sexual violence against her and her daughter, and gender-related stigma for the work she carries out.
Since the November elections, the general human rights situation in Honduras has deteriorated, as has the security situation for HRDs and journalists. In the two months following the election, PBI Honduras registered 35 attacks against human rights defenders and journalists, the majority of which relate to the excessive use of force by the state security forces during protests. Dina reports having been followed by unidentified men. Dina has been the beneficiary of precautionary measures from the Inter American Commission on Human Rights since 2006.
PBI have been accompanying Dina Meza since May 2014, PBI provides her with protection at a time of high level of violence towards journalists in Honduras.