Extremely serious human rights violations have taken place since the inauguration of Honduran President Porfirio Lobo on January 27th. Since that date, there has been a notable increase in attacks against people opposed to the June 28th coup d’état and their family members, as well as a surge in attacks against journalists. A teacher was slain in front of his class. Three campesino leaders from the community of Aguán were assassinated.
Five journalists were killed in March alone. As noted in the Los Angeles Times, “José Osmán López, president of the Committee for Free Expression in Honduras, said the killings of the journalists are part of a wider deterioration in human rights that has especially hurt opponents of the coup and belied talk of reconciliation.”
Human rights defenders are experiencing “criminalization of human rights defenders; impunity and a lack of protection for their work,” according to conclusions of a recent gathering of human rights defenders in Tegucigalpa. Mery Agurcia of the Honduran human rights group COFADEH stated, “it is hard for us to act, because the same people who created the political crisis, the same people who broke with the constitutional order,” are the ones to whom people should be able to turn to for protection. Thus “we have to appeal for help to international mechanisms of human rights protection.”
As noted by CEJIL, the Center for Justice and International Law, the Honduran government must take action immediately to protect human defenders, journalists and activists who are under threat and to vigorously investigate and prosecute these killings. LAWG also urges the U.S. government to publicly, in a strong and consistent manner, press the Honduran government to promptly and effectively investigate and prosecute these killings, and urge that death threats against activists, journalists, defenders and others be investigated.
These terrible abuses must stop, and they must not go unpunished.
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