Threats, Intimidation and Harassment of Labor Leaders, Journalists, Human Rights Defenders, and Political Party Activists

Last update: July 28, 2014

The Embassy continues to receive reports of harassment of and threats against labor leaders, human rights defenders, journalists, and social communicators.  In many of these cases, the source of the threat is unknown, but nevertheless may result in stifling voices vital to democracy and human security.  Members of the media and NGOs have stated that the press “self-censors” due to fear of reprisal from organized crime or corrupt government officials.

Status Update

Civil Society Organizations:  In February 2014, the Government of Honduras announced that the registration of thousands of civil society organizations would be cancelled due to the failure of the organizations to present to the government required legal registration papers.  Civil society opposed the deregistration and met with government representatives regarding their concerns.  The government appointed a new official to lead the unit responsible for registering civil society organizations, and announced steps to strengthen the unit.

In September 2013, a judge ordered Bertha Caceres, leader of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations, to be held in prison pending trial for charges related to protests against the construction of a hydroelectric facility and a weapons-related charge.  NGOs cited the charges against her as unfounded and politically-motivated.  In February 2014, a judge dismissed the weapons-related charge against her.

Journalists:  In 2011, with assistance from the U.S. government, the Public Ministry and Honduran National Police created the Special Victims Task Force (now Violent Crimes Task Force) to address violent crimes against vulnerable communities, including journalists.  As of May 2014, the task force was investigating the homicides of 24 journalists.  In cases where motives were determined, none were associated with security forces, and in only one case in was the motive for the crime related to the victim’s work as a journalist.

Further Information

The U.S. Embassy continues to urge the Government of Honduras to devote resources to investigating and prosecuting those that stifle freedom of expression through the use of threats and intimidation.  The Violent Crimes Task Force continues to receive assistance from the U.S. government, including U.S. advisors and equipment.  Since its inception in 2011, the Task Force has investigated 201 cases and achieved 43 arrests, 54 indictments, 11 guilty verdicts, and four not-guilty verdicts.  Persons receiving threats may file official reports with the Public Ministry, the Honduran National Police, and the National Human Rights Commissioner (CONADEH).