Being Better Neighbors towards Latin America

LAWGEF Testifies before U.S. Congress on Human Rights Situation in Honduras


Testimony of Lisa Haugaard
Executive Director, Latin America Working Group Education Fund
before the
United States Congress
Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission

July 25, 2013

 Thank you to the honorable co-chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, Representatives Frank Wolf and Jim McGovern, for hosting this important hearing on the human rights situation in Honduras and for the opportunity to testify today.

The situation of human rights in Honduras is indeed critical.  The June 28, 2009 coup severely undermined the already weak institutions intended to protect the citizenry.  Today, the Honduran state is failing to protect its citizens in the most fundamental ways.  State agents are directly involved in human rights violations, including arbitrary detention and extrajudicial executions.  The government fails to provide effective protection measures for individuals and groups at risk.  The police not only fail to properly investigate crimes, some members are directly implicated in corruption and murder.  And the judicial system is failing to achieve justice for crimes and gross human rights violations.

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¡Seguimos Adelante! Help LAWG Refuel this Summer!

refuel_lawg_2_

I’m ecstatic about our past six months! Together we’ve proven that much can be accomplished. 

In under two months, you and 4,400 other LAWGistas signed a petition delivered to the White House asking for victims’ participation in the Colombian peace process, the creation of a truth commission, and the reshaping of U.S. aid to promote peace, not war.

You and over 9,000 others have made it clear that Cuba shouldn’t be on the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism, or as we refer to it, the “Terrorist List.” If you apply the criteria described by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in taking North Korea off the list in 2008—no support for terrorism in the last twenty years – the removal of Cuba from this list is long overdue! Can you believe our government places Cuba in the same category with Iran, Syria, and Sudan?

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Secretary Kerry: What is Going on in Honduras?

It has been four years since the coup in Honduras, and human rights activists are STILL facing threats and assassinations. The eruption of violence since then has reached new levels as the Honduran police have been accused of participating in extrajudicial killings, the same police agents that receive aid and training from the U.S. government. 

Take action today to end U.S. support of violence and push for justice in Honduras! 

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Contact the Foreign Policy Staffer in Washington DC Office of Your Senators!


U.S. Senator Ben Cardin is circulating a Senate sign-on "Dear Colleague" letter addressing the deteriorating rule of law and human rights crisis in Honduras.

A great way to make our legislators pay attention is to get their phones ringing off the hooks. Let’s give Washington a piece of our minds through thousands of phone calls that will tell them we need to know what is happening in Honduras. 

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Justice Prevails in Guatemala: Ríos Montt Found Guilty


Kelsey Alford-Jones is the Director of the Guatemala Human Rights Commission/USA

“Justice is a right for victims and contributes to rule of law in our country. We believe that for a true peace to exist in Guatemala there must first be justice,” said Guatemalan Judge Yassmin Barrios.  She declared General Efraín Ríos Montt 
guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity on Friday May 10, a day that will be etched forever in Guatemala’s collective memory.

Ríos Montt was convicted of masterminding and overseeing the massacre of 1,771 Ixil Mayans in the department of El Quiché, as well as the forced displacement of 29,000 people, and 1,485 acts of sexual violence and acts of torture during the early 1980s. He was sentenced to 80 years in prison and was ordered into police custody. His director of military intelligence, José Mauricio Rodriguez Sanchez, was absolved of both crimes...

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Over 100 Groups Call on Obama & Mesoamerican Leaders to Tackle Root Causes of Violence at SICA


As President Obama prepares to sit down for meetings with President Enrique Peña Nieto in Mexico and other fellow elected leaders from the Americas at the Summit of the Central American Integration System (SICA) in Costa Rica, over 145 civil society organizations from 10 countries throughout the Americas, including the Latin America Working Group, sent a letter to their respective presidents urging them to address their concerns regarding the dire human rights crisis in the region. 

Citing an increase in violence and human rights violations, the letter calls for a shift away from the failed militarized security policies which have exacerbated violence and human rights concerns in the region towards policies that address the root causes of violence.
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Until We Find Them, Part 3: The Disappeared in Guatemala


On Monday, March 18, 2013 the Latin America Working Group Education Fund together with the Washington Office on Latin America, the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, the US Office on Colombia, and the Guatemala Human Rights Commission hosted a panel event entitled “Until We Find Them: The Disappeared in Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, and Peru” to discuss the situation of forced disappearances in each country.

Wilson de los Reyes Aragón has been the Director of Impunity Watch in Guatemala since 2007. He is a Colombian lawyer, as well as a university lecturer and consultant on human rights advocacy and litigation. He spoke about the situation of forced disappearances in Guatemala, which are officially acknowledged to have occurred during the conflict era prior to the 1996 peace accords, but which continue today, now largely unacknowledged by the necessary authorities.The following is his statement, edited only for readability purposes.

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