San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

U.N. launches probe of press abuses in Honduras

The United Nations on Wednesday formally launched a probe of abuses of freedom of the press in Honduras that have mounted since a 2009 coup in the Central American nation.

UN rapporteur Frank de La Rue is leading the investigation of abuses that include 16 murders of journalists just since 2010.

De La Rue, a Guatemalan based in Washington, arrived in Tegucigalpa for a three-day stay including a forum on “Impunity, Free Speech and Justice.”

He met Wednesday with relatives of slain reporters and also was meeting with victims of human rights abuses that followed the June 28, 2009 coup against elected president Manuel Zelaya, a rancher who veered to the left after taking office.

“There is a significant concern when one sees excessive silence” after such murders, de La Rue said, despite pledges that improvements are in the works by President Porfirio Lobo.

“If to this silence, we add just the 16 murders that are officially recognized, the situation becomes much more serious,” he warned.

Public safety has been hit hard in Honduras since the coup that ousted Zelaya.

Lobo was elected president in November that year, amid a political impasse between the de facto government that followed the coup and Zelaya.

Mexico has the highest rate of slain journalists in the Americas followed by Honduras.

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