In a twist, the legislature decided against supporting the proposed amendments to the law, which have been under a great deal of scrutiny in the country, and labeled as an attempt to gag and control the work of the media. The Telecommunications Act and free speech in Honduras have been hot topics for debate lately.
Hernandez hopes to present a counter proposal of self-regulation under the parameters of freedom of expression. Instead, the Telecommunications Act will address two other areas of concern: “…the first will be oriented to the issue of freedom of expression, to protect children and adolescents, to prevent incitement to violence and hatred, to protect the good name of people; and the second document focuses on regulatory framework for telecommunications,” said Hernandez.
Last week, representatives of the Association of Journalists of Honduras (CPH – Colegio de Periodistas de Honduras), the Honduran Press Association (APH – Colegio de Periodistas de Honduras), and the organization C-Libre withdrew from the roundtables which aimed to reach a consensus on the law that violates fundamental rights such as freedom of expression and press, contained in international treaties of which Honduras is a subscriber. Through a press release, the different associations explained their decision to withdraw after an attack against the President of the Association of Radio Stations and Independent TV stations of Honduras (ARTIH), Elías Javier Chahín Dávila.
Notable organizations withdrawing include the Association of Independent Radio and Television, the Independent Media Association, the Honduran Council of Private Enterprise, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Association for Freedom and Democracy, and the Alliance for Honduras, amongst others.
The Honduran Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez spoke in defense of the freedom of expression, and commented on the previous proposed amendments to the Telecommunications Act: “I think it has been three months since we were brought that singsong,” said Cardinal Rodriguez. “… (it is best) not to think that you can restrict freedom of expression,” he said.