World News

Honduras de facto leader further restricts media

TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - Honduras’ de facto leaders have imposed a new law that limits media freedom after shutting down two broadcasters critical of the post-coup government.

The government of Roberto Micheletti has not fulfilled a pledge to revoke emergency measures that last month closed Radio Globo and Canal 36, which had supported ousted President Manuel Zelaya.

Instead it unveiled a new measure on Friday giving it the power to pull the plug on radio and television stations that incite “social anarchy” or “national hatred.”

The government said it was applying rules allowed under international law.

“It doesn’t represent any kind of control of the media,” Interior Minister Oscar Matute told Reuters on Saturday. “No journalist, no media outlet, can act as an apologist for hatred and violence in society.”

Micheletti has been criticized by the Organization of American States and press freedom groups for sending masked soldiers and police to seize the broadcasting equipment of Radio Globo and Canal 36.

His government accused the stations of encouraging vandalism and insurrection for announcing protests.

The two stations were among the only media in Honduras that reported on the protests in favor of restoring Zelaya, who is holed up in the embassy of Brazil in Tegucigalpa.

“There’s no legal reason for Radio Globo and Canal 36 to remain closed,” said Susan Lee, head of Amnesty International in the Americas on Friday.

The army putsch that removed leftist Zelaya on June 28 triggered Central America’s worst crisis in years and has tested U.S. President Barack Obama’s promise of a new era of engagement with Latin America.

The two sides are now engaged in talks and negotiators on Friday said some progress had been made toward finding a solution to the standoff.

Additional reporting by Gustavo Palencia; Editing by Xavier Briand