URGENT ACTION: Journalist in danger – Repeated Threats and Persecution (COFADEH)

Versión original publicado en español aquí.

The Committee of Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared of Honduras (Cofadeh) expresses its concern for the security of Gilda Carolina Silvestrucchi, independent journalist for 16 years and Director of the radio program “In the Plaza” who is the victim of serious threats against her life and against the lives of her children.

On January 3, 2012 while on her way to work at the radio program she was followed by a red Honda Civic for several minutes, until the driver of the vehicle transporting her was able to lose the car that was following them.

On January 20, 2012, her mother received a phone call from a male voice requesting information regarding the routine of Gilda Carolina  Silvestrucchi including what time she arrived home, where she was during the day and where he could find her. The unknown caller questioned the mother under the pretense of knowing the exact time when she could be found at home.

Today, January 23, 2012 at 9:30 a.m. she received approximately five calls on her cell phone from the number 94 83 42 03. The first question from the unknown caller was if she was the owner of the cell phone. The movment of vehicles could be heard on the line and the caller than said “We know that you have three children, that the oldest is 15 years old, that you are on the street with your 7 year old child, and that the oldest is in your home caring for the one year old. We are going to kill you.”

When the call ended, Gilda called her younger daughter who informed her that an unknown person had called asking for Gilda stating that he had to deliver some papers to her. The subject then called Gilda’s daughter two more times.
On that day, Gilda Silvestrucchi had hosted Monseñor Luis Alfonso Santos and Pedro Landa on her program as guests to speak about problems related to mining in the Siria Valley and the maneuvers of members of Congress to approve the new Mining Law. 

The right to freedom of expression and the right of society to be informed, enshrined in the Constitution and international human rights law, are currently being violated through, intimidation and threats from public authorities and illegitimate powers. Crimes against journalists and violence against the freedom of expression throughout Honduras have reached intolerable levels, never before seen in the history of Honduras. Since 2009, 18 journalists have been murdered, 25 have received death threats, 14 have suffered illegal detentions, 4 have been kidnapped and tortured, and 37 other attacks and aggressions against journalists have been recorded.

On December 14, 2011 journalists held a protest which was repressed by the military assigned to the Presidential palace. The protest was convened by the collective, “Journalists for Life and the Freedom of Expression” of which Gilda is an active member.

In Honduras, there are structures and threats which restrict freedom of expression in large areas of the country including political censure and organized crime, resulting in self-censorship as way to protect the safety of journalists given the lack of State action to impose exemplary sanctions for crimes against journalists and guarantees of freedom of expression.

Cofadeh requests the National and International Community:
    •    Publicly condemn the intimidation of journalists and demand that the state of Honduras commit to the protection of members of this profession;  
    •    Request immediate action to provide all protection necessary for Gilda Carolina Silvestrucci and her family, particularly her young children in the manner that she requests;
    •    Request an urgent, exhaustive and impartial investigation into the acts that place the life of Gilda Silvestrucchi at risk and that the murders of 18 journalists be investigated as well as threats against other journalists. The results of these investigations should be made public and those responsible should be tried.
    •    Demand that protective orders issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for JOURNALISTS AT RISK be applied.

Please send calls, expression of concern and demands to:

Jorge Alberto Rivera Avilés
President of the Supreme Court
Tel (504) 2269-3000  2269-3069
Mail: cedij@poderjudicial.gob.hn
Luis Alberto Rubí
Attorney General
Fax (504) 2221-5667
Tel (504) 2221-5670  2221-3099
Mail: lrubi@mp.hn

With copies to:
Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras (COFADEH)
Barrio La Plazuela , Avenida Cervantes, Casa No. 1301
Apartado Postal 1243
Tegucigalpa, HONDURAS
Fax:+504 2220 1528 (call and ask for “tono de fax, por favor”)
Mail: berthacofadeh@yahoo.com

Also send copies to the diplomatic representation for Honduras accredited in your country.