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.
Since the 2009 coup, many Honduran LGBT activists, union leaders, human rights defenders, leaders of poor farming communities and journalists have been threatened and killed. As violence has soared, so has impunity. Crimes committed by both police and military personnel have not been investigated.
According to a report cited by the Associated Press, 149 civilians have been killed by the police in the past two years alone. A special committee was created by the Honduras Congress to address corruption and criminality within the ranks of the national police. So far the committee has recommended that 230 officers be dismissed. However, only seven have been removed from active duty.
Accusations that the national police chief, Juan Carlos Bonilla, has been linked to extrajudicial executions in the early 2000s caused the State Department to temporarily withhold $30 million in police aid last year until verifying that only units that have not committed human rights abuses would receive the aid. However, all police units are under the direct control of the police chief, which means that all aid is under Bonilla’s control.
We’re also concerned that Honduras’s military is becoming more involved in law enforcement, which is not the answer. Honduras needs to investigate and punish corrupt and abusive police, and ensure that its police force protects the population.
We are not alone in being outraged by what is going on in Honduras. Senator Ben Cardin has written a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry asking for the State Department to:
- provide Congress with an update as to whether the Honduras government has made progress in implementing policies that respect the rule of law and has prosecuted members of the police and military for human rights abuses;
- ensure no funds are used to support the police implicated in human rights violations;
- help ensure the upcoming November elections are free, fair, and peaceful.
This letter is a great opportunity to make real change, but it will only be effective if you can convince your senators to sign the letter. The letter will be open for signatures until June 7, so make sure you flood your senators’ inbox and have their phone lines ringing off the hook!
Thanks so much for your support at this crucial moment. To make a phone call, click here for instructions. The situation in Honduras is very serious, but we have the power to help make a difference. We hope you’ll join us today in making that happen.