Sr.Julián Pacheco Tinoco, Minister of Security of Honduras
Sr.Óscar Fernando Chinchilla Banegas, Attorney General of Honduras
Sr.Héctor Leonel Ayala Alvarenga, Minister of Human Rights, Justice, Interior and Decentralization
January 24, 2018
Dear Minister Pacheco, Minister Ayala, and Attorney General Chinchilla:
We are very disturbed by the serious acts of repression against social activists and human rights defenders who are monitoring and denouncingmurder, smear campaigns, threats and intimidations in the aftermath of the November 29 disputed presidential elections. The Coalition against Impunity has registered at least 63 attacks against defenders since the post-election crisis started. These include:
December 16 2017 - The Broad Movement for Justice and Dignity (MADJ) reported that security forces brutally repressed a protest in La Masica in Atlántida Department. Security forces beat and later fired taser guns at approximately 10 people, including MADJ member Diego Aguilar López and Wilmer Paredes, a collaborator with MADJ.
December 30 2017 - Father Ismael Moreno Coto, director of the independent radio station Radio Progreso and the Reflection, Investigation, and Communication Team (ERIC-SJ)reported a smear campaign in which his name and picture, together with those of social activists Karina Flores and Araminta Pereira and six other defenders, were included in a flyer named “Axis of Evil” from El Progreso. They were accused of violence and of being involved in organized crime. In December, the National Protection System denied protection to ERIC-SJ’s researcher Joaquín Mejía.
January 1 - Unknown assailants shot and killed Wilmer Paredes. On December 29 he had requested protection from the National Protection System for human rights defenders after he reported vehicles following him.
January 12 - Security forces harassed several journalists who were covering a protest in Tegucigalpa and violently forced them to leave the area. Two journalists from UNE TV were subsequently injured (cf our letter of Jan 22, 2018). According to the NGO C-Libre, another journalist from UNE TV has reported several security incidents since December, including death threats and tear gas thrown into her house at night
January 14 - a flyer began circulating on social media accusing MADJ’s leaders, Martín and Víctor Fernández, of being responsible for Wilmer Paredes’ murder.
We are appalled by these brutal acts of repression and strongly urge that you
- initiate a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation into the murder of Wilmer Paredes, and the injuries, threats, and smear campaigns reported by human rights defenders and organizations, make the results public and bring those responsible to justice;
- take all appropriate measures to guarantee the safety of human rights defenders at risk, in accordance with their wishes.
Christine Stonebraker-Martínez and Brian J. Stefan Szittai
Nora Urbina, Director of the National Protection System, ~ via email
Marlon R. Tábora Muñoz, Ambassador of Honduras to the US ~ via website or fax and US mail
Heide B. Fulton, Chargé d’Affaires, US Embassy in Honduras ~ via email
Jason Smith, Human Rights and Labor Representative, US Embassy in Honduras ~ via email
Olivia Franken, Honduras Desk, US State Dept ~ via email
Joel Hernández, Rapporteur for Honduras, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ~ via email
Edison Lanza, Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ~ via email
Francisco José Eguiguren Praeli, Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ~ via email
US Senators Brown and Portman ~ via email
US Representatives Beatty, Fudge, Gibbs, Johnson, Jordan, Joyce, Kaptur, Latta, Renacci, Ryan ~ via email