Advocating for freedom of expression in Honduras
MLDI partners with organisations across the world to improve the availably of local level support for journalists, media and bloggers in need of defence. One of our newest partners is C-Libre in Honduras. We interviewed staff from C-Libre to find out more about their organisation and the challenges facing journalists in Honduras.
Could you tell us a bit about C-Libre’s history?
C-Libre promotes, advocates for and defends the right to freedom of expression and the right of access to information in Honduras. C-Libre understands that these are fundamental rights which strengthen democracy and the rule of law.
Can you tell us about the political and social conditions in Honduras that led to the creation of C-Libre?
Honduras has seen many violations of freedom of expression and the right to information, including the dismissal of several journalists following pressure from the government and the then-president, Carlos Flores (1998-2002).
The Office of the Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Organisation of American States (OAS) responded by calling attention to the ‘worrying’ situation of the Honduran press. This formal, documented report was the antecedent to the annual reports that we (C-Libre) would subsequently make.
The Committee for Free Expression (C-Libre) was created in 2001 in direct response to the growing censorship in the media and the control exercised by government as well as other politically and economically powerful groups. C-Libre works to promote a significant change in Honduran journalism by promoting and defending access to information and freedom of expression. Our emphasis is on training that contributes to a professional and ethical culture of journalism: managing research, monitoring, recording and reporting on the constant violations of the right to freedom of expression. We also work on influencing political power to seek reforms or new regulations to strengthen these rights and we promote protection mechanisms for journalists, social commentators, activists and human rights defenders – all aimed at safeguarding their physical and psychological integrity.
Tell us about your partnership with MLDI
Currently, we are working on a small project with MLDI called Promoting access to justice and defence of the right to freedom of expression in Honduras. It emerged in response to the criminalisation journalists and media constantly face if their reporting is not aligned with the messages produced by the state. These journalists are at constant risk of criminal or administrative prosecution for disseminating information that is in some way ‘uncomfortable’ for groups with economic, political and military power. Honduran laws are becoming increasingly restrictive towards freedom of expression, and this affects Honduran journalism deeply and – with it – the establishment of a true democracy.
Since 2015, C-Libre has been providing advice, legal representation and strategic litigation free of charge to ensure that victims have access to a dignified defence. We do everything possible to guarantee access to justice for those that speak out against corruption, abuse of power, human rights violations and lack of transparency in a state that censors dissenting voices.
What have been the main successes so far?
Some of the most important achievements as an organization have been preventing the closure of media outlets such as community radios and alternative media, and strengthening alternative methods of communication in the communities through technology. By issuing Early Alerts we have been able to protect the lives of journalists and social commentators by reporting on possible attacks and publicising the search for the people responsible. This has helped us to managed the protection of journalists and social commentators who are at risk because of their journalistic work or public statements.
In the legal area our main successes have been helping avoid criminal sanctions for journalists who have been accused of defamation and other crimes. At the structural level, strategic litigation has been carried out to halt the reform and creation of laws which restrict freedom of expression.
We’ve also given support, advice and legal defence to journalists accused of disseminating information of public interest, under the Law of Transparency and Access to Public Information.
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