United Nations human rights experts today urged the Honduran Government to take immediate action to end violence against journalists in the Central American country where, they said, seven media professionals (six journalists and one broadcaster) have been killed during the past six weeks, and several others have been threatened.

"We urge the Government to take all necessary measures to thoroughly investigate these killings and threats, prosecute those responsible, and ensure the physical and psychological integrity of all journalists under threat," the independent experts said in a statement issued in Geneva.

Reporters Without Borders, a non-governmental organization (NGO), has called Honduras and Mexico the deadliest countries by far for journalists working in the Western Hemisphere.

A UNESCO report found that rising numbers of journalists are being killed worldwide, mostly in countries that are at peace.

A record 77 slayings were reported by UNESCO last year, including the killing of about 30 journalists in one day during an ambush in the Philippines last November.

Honduras suffered nine months of political turmoil after a military-led coup removed the elected president. Now, it joins Mexico, riddled with drug violence, as the deadliest place for journalists working in the Western hemisphere.

The 2009 Honduran constitutional crisis was a political dispute over plans to rewrite the Constitution of Honduras, which culminated in the forcible removal and exile of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya by the Honduran military acting on orders of Honduras' Supreme Court.

Authorities have denied the killings are linked to the journalists' profession, nor that they indicate an escalation of assaults against freedom of expression. However, some reporters in San Pedro Sula are wearing bulletproof vests.

Honduras is a republic in Central America. It was formerly known as Spanish Honduras to differentiate it from British Honduras (now Belize).