News

October 21, 2015 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Travel ban prevents journalist from attending hearing on his case


Radio Globo y TV presenter Julio Ernesto Alvarado, the target of government harassment and abusive judicial decisions in a defamation suit, was prevented from flying to Washington yesterday to attend an Inter-American Commission on Human Rights hearing on his case.

Honduran immigration officials at Tegucigalpa’s international airport prohibited Alvarado from leaving the country on the grounds that his passport was stolen in the 1970s by a dangerous individual who committed several crimes including a murder.

The immigration officials added that if Alvarado wanted more information about this matter, he would have to go to San Pedro Sula, a city four hours by road from Tegucigalpa, in order to ask the judicial authorities there.

We condemn the Honduran government’s manoeuvres, which must not be allowed to prevent this journalist from testifying and pleading his case before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR),” said Emmanuel Colombié, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Latin America desk.

Julio Ernesto Alvarado has been the victim of judicial persecution since 2013 and has now exhausted all possibilities of legal recourse in Honduras despite the fact that, as a precautionary measure, the IACHR had asked the Honduran authorities to suspend the proceedings while it examines the case.

Once again, a member of the Organization of American States has failed to comply with its obligations under the OAS human rights system.

Alvarado was to have participated in an IACHR meeting to discuss his case and, in particular, the failure of the Honduran authorities to comply with the suspension of proceedings that the IACHR requested as “precautionary measure” on 5 November 2014. He had also been invited to argue against a court order banning him from working as a journalist for 16 months.

As Alvarado has travelled abroad in the past without any problem, it is clear that President Juan Orlando Hernández’s government was responsible for yesterday’s travel ban. The government found it hard to accept last year’s IACHR “precautionary measure” request and, last month, a supreme court decision just ignored the request.

The defamation suit was brought against Alvarado in 2006 by Belinda Flores Mendoza, the former dean of the economics faculty at the Autonomous National University of Honduras, after he reported on his Globo TV programme “Mi Nación” that she was the subject of charges before the supreme court.

Honduras is ranked 132nd out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.