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Wake Up Call: Human Rights in Honduras

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By: Lisa Haugaard, Executive Director 6/8/2012

Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and 93 other members of the Congress sent a letter on March 12th, 2012 to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressing grave concern about human rights violations in Honduras, particularly the murder of 45 people associated with small farmer associations in Bajo Aguán.

“This is a wake up call for the Lobo Administration,” said Lisa Haugaard, Executive Director of the Latin America Working Group. “Forty-five campesino leaders in a small area of Honduras have been murdered. Human rights defenders of all stripes — campesino leaders, lawyers, LGBT community members, women defenders, journalists, opposition activists — are being threatened and killed. And not only is the Honduran government failing to do enough to protect them and prosecute those who endanger them, but in too many cases, police or military agents are involved directly or are collaborating with those who commit abuses. We need to see greater effort to protect the rule of law in Honduras.”

LAWGEF provided information for the letter and worked with an energetic network of activists across the country, with leadership from the Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America, to encourage the amazing number of signers.

Honduras was singled out for a visit by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, who following her visit, asserted that: “The 2009 coup d’état aggravated institutional weaknesses, increased the vulnerability of human rights defenders and provoked a major polarisation in society. Due to the exposed nature of their activities, human rights defenders continue to suffer extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, torture and ill-treatment, death threats, attacks, harassment and stigmatisation.” She went on to say, “I have observed that certain categories of human rights defenders are at particular risk, including journalists, staff of the National Human Rights Commission, lawyers, prosecutors and judges, as well as defenders working on the rights of women, children, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex community, the indigenous and Afro-Honduran communities as well as those working on environmental and land rights issues.”