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Honduras formally bans journalist from practicing profession

This statement was originally published on on 30 October 2015.

The Honduran government has yet again displayed contempt for the authority of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) by formally banning journalist Julio Ernesto Alvarado from his profession for 16 months on 29 October 2015.

The move by the Honduran government directly violates the November 2014 order by the IACHR to suspend this ban on the grounds that it violates Julio Ernesto Alvarado's right to freedom of expression. Furthermore, it makes of mockery of the guarantees Honduras made to the IACHR to uphold the suspension of the ban in a meeting in Washington D.C. on 21 October 2015. At this meeting, the IACHR Special Rapporteur Edison Lanza clarified once again that “The Honduran state and judiciary are obliged to comply [with the IACHR ruling] … to ensure this sentence will not be executed.”

The ban is part of a criminal conviction handed down as a result of a protracted defamation law suit brought against Alvarado by a public official in 2006.

“By carrying out this suspension, Honduras yet again demonstrates a fundamental lack of respect for freedom of expression and for the authority of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR)”, said Jennifer Clement, President of PEN International.

On 20 October, the day before the hearing at the IACHR, Julio Ernesto Alvarado was prevented from boarding a plane from Tegucigalpa to Washington DC to attend the hearing. The airport authorities informed him that his passport was flagged with a 'migration alert', meaning that he is unable to leave the country due to a court order. When he asked for details, he was told that the court order is connected to an alleged case of identity theft. The journalist was unaware of any such court order and has never encountered any problems travelling abroad before.

Alvarado was represented at the meeting with the IACHR and the Honduran state by Dina Meza, his lawyer Kenia Oliva – also founding members of PEN Honduras – and Tamsin Mitchell, Americas Coordinator for PEN International.

In November 2014 the IACHR granted Alvarado 'precautionary measures' at the request of PEN International and PEN Honduras, ordering the Honduran state to suspend the implementation of Alvarado's 16-month criminal sentence and ban pending investigation of the case by the IACHR.

Alvarado's final appeal against his conviction – which should also have been suspended under the IACHR order – was rejected by the Honduran Supreme Court of Justice on 4 September 2015.

PEN International calls on the Honduran government to immediately implement the precautionary measures granted to Julio Ernesto Alvarado without further delay.

PEN also urges the IACHR to declare Alvarado's case admissible for investigation by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

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