Sr. Juan Orlando Hernández
President of Honduras
Óscar Fernando Banegas
Attorney General of Honduras
We are very concerned about the ill treatment and arbitrary arrests of José Miltiades Sánchez, director of the organization LGBTI Association Youth Movement (AJEM), as well as Cidar Armando Arias Mendoza and Evin Omar Ponce Garcia, both members of the association.
On the night of April 3, 2016 four policemen arrested Alex Eduardo Sorto, Cidar Armando Arias Mendoza and Evin Omar Ponce García, claiming they where allegedly drunk. The officers demanded money in exchange for their freedom. Because the three defenders rejected the false accusation and refused to pay, they were transferred to the traffic police squadron at the Kennedy neighborhood in Tegucigalpa.
Once there, Evin Omar Ponce, identified himself as an openly gay defender of human rights. He was then handcuffed to Cidar Arias and police officers began to beat and insult them. Before the attacks, Sorto, whose precautionary measures granted by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (CIDH) had been ignored, called the emergency number to report abuse. A plainclothes policeman stopped him and hit him in the chest, causing him to fall and hit his head on the floor. After the call, another officer threatened that “before the DPI (Police Investigation Department) come you will be gone.” Then three defenders were moved to the 4th police station in Comayagüela district. These facts were reported to the Research and Evaluation Career Police (DIECP).
It is important to note that this case falls within the framework of the continuous violations faced by human rights defenders in Honduras. Faced with this worrying situation, we must remember the murder, among others, in March of Berta Cáceres and Nelson García, members of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), as well as the murders of several members of the association LGBTI Rainbow since July 2015.
We strongly urge that you
- carry out an immediate, independent, thorough and impartial investigation into the ill treatment, arbitrary arrest and threats against the lives of José Miltiades Sánchez, Cidar Armando Arias Mendoza and Evin Omar Ponce García, publish the results and bring those responsible to justice;
- implement protective measures as soon as possible to ensure their physical and psychological integrity and that of the other members of the AJEM as well as all human rights defenders in Honduras;
- ensure the implementation of the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998.
Brian Stefan Szittai and Christine Stonebraker Martínez