New York, April 6, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on law enforcement in Honduras to stop attacking or prohibiting journalists from covering social unrest in the country. The attacks have come amid a national teachers' strike that has turned violent.
Teachers, farmers, and anti-government activists demanding education reforms, and an increase in wages in the capital, Tegucigalpa, have clashed with police, The Associated Press said. The confrontations, which left at least one teacher dead and dozens of protesters injured, have spread to other parts of the country, local press reports said. Members of the anti-government group known as the National Front of Popular Resistance, formed after the coup that ousted former President Manuel Zelaya in June 2009, demanded the return of the exiled leader.
"We are alarmed by the attacks on Honduran journalists and the number of injuries," said Carlos Lauría, CPJ's senior program coordinator for the Americas. "The authorities must ensure that journalists can cover these protests and they should conduct a thorough investigation into abuses by local law enforcement and bring those responsible to justice."
At least seven journalists have faced harassment, detention, and violent attacks in the past two weeks while reporting unrest throughout Honduras, CPJ research found.
- On March 22, national police agents hurled a tear gas canister at the vehicle of Tegucigalpa-based Radio Globo Director David Romero and Canal 36 TV reporter Lidieth Díaz as they were interviewing protesters, according to a press release issued by the Organization of American States' special rapporteur for freedom of expression.
- On March 30, reporter David Corea Arteaga was grazed on the jaw by a bullet when national police attacked a group of journalists who were covering a similar protest in Colón province, according to the local freedom of expression organization Comité por la Libre Expresión (C-Libre). Corea is a journalist with the cable news service Centro de Noticias de Colón.
- Police detained Pedro López, a correspondent for Radio Progreso, while he was covering a protest in Potrerillos in northern Cortés province on March 30, press reports said. López, who was reporting live with his cellphone, was held for four hours at the local police station. According to the online magazine Revistazo, López was released when police "realized he had been doing his job as a correspondent."
- On March 25, two journalists with Canal 36 television station were injured while covering social unrest in Tegucigalpa. Reporter Richard Cásula was treated at a local hospital after inhaling tear gas, as was photographer Salvador Sandoval, who sustained injuries to his face after being struck by a tear gas canister, C-Libre reported.
- On March 21, Globo TV camera operator Uriel Rodríguez was injured by rubber bullets in both his legs by police attempting to disperse the teacher's protest, C-Libre said.