Donnerstag, 12. November 2015

IAPA rejects lawsuit by former Honduras First Lady

The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today said a lawsuit filed by former First Lady of Honduras Rosa Elena Bonilla Ávila against a journalist and a television station was unfounded and sought to restrict the public's right to information in a case of national interest.

Bonilla Ávila, wife of former president Porfirio Lobo (2010-2014), on September 3 took legal action against Ulises Aguirre and the Compañía Televisora Hondureña S.A. de C.V. television company seeking damages on the alleged grounds that her right to honor, to privacy and to image was violated.

She was accusing the journalist and TV company for having disseminated on August 13 the result of an audit carried out by the Accounting High Court for alleged irregularities in the purchase of shoes without a public request for bids between 2010 and 2012. The Court said that there appeared to have been committed crimes of abuse of authority and violation of the duties of officials in the acquisition of, payment for and reception and distribution of purchases.

The chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Claudio Paolillo, expressed "surprise" at the lawsuit against "something that is the basic responsibility of the press to report on matters of public interest."

Paolillo, editor of the Montevideo, Uruguay, weekly Búsqueda, added that "The people that carry out public duties as in this case are more exposed to criticism, the watchdog role of the press and are not exempt from responsibilities." He added that Article 10 of the Declaration of Chapultepec establishes that "No news medium nor journalist may be punished for publishing the truth or criticizing or denouncing the government."

According to the First Lady, in complaining of the journalist's style in giving the information, explained in her lawsuit that the "insulting, derogatory, offensive, harmful, scornful" expressions used by the journalist were detrimental to her honor, privacy and image.

The Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights also establishes in its Article 10 that in cases in which the offended person is a public official "it must be proven that in disseminating the news, the social communicator had the specific intent to inflict harm, was fully aware that false news was disseminated, or acted with gross negligence in efforts to determine the truth or falsity of such news."

The IAPA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press and of expression in the Americas. It is made up of more than 1,300 print publications from throughout the Western Hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida. For more information please go to