Blanca Sarahí Izaguirre Lozano, National Commissioner for Human Rights of Honduras
Lica. Karla Eugenia Cueva Aguilar, Secretary for Human Rights of Honduras
October 23, 2021
Dear Commissioner Izaguirre and Secretary Cueva:
We, members of the InterReligious Task Force, are concerned about the developing pattern of violence inflicted on opposition LIBRE party (Freedom and Refoundation Party) officials and candidates. A mayoral candidate, Nery Fernando Reyes Pineda, was assassinated on October 8. The following day, there was an attempted killing of Olivia Marcela Zúniga Cáceres, a LIBRE party congresswoman and the daughter of Berta Cáceres, the indigenous environmental defender who was assassinated in March 2016.
At dawn on October 9, at least four unknown assailants broke into the house of Olivia Zúniga Cáceresin the Planes de Santa Catalina neighborhood of La Esperanza, Intibucá. They beat her badly and tried to strangle her, but she was able to escape death. The assailants left the home, stealing a white truck that she had at her house. The legislator, who is a beneficiary of Protection Measures issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), filed a complaint with the Police Investigations Directorate (DPI).
The previous night in Choluteca Department, the LIBRE party mayoral candidate for the municipality of Santa Ana de Yusguare, Nery Fernando Reyes Pineda was shot to death, less than two months before the scheduled elections. He was killed on the outskirts of Choluteca city. His body was found inside a green Mitsubishi van with gunshot holes on the left side of the vehicle.
According to the National Observatory on Violence at the National Autonomous University of Honduras (ONV-UNAH), 15 people linked to politics have been murdered from December 2020 to September 15, 2021. The assassination of Nery Fernando Reyes Pineda and the attempted assassination of Olivia Marcela Zúniga Cáceres are recent examples of an ongoing climate of anti-LIBRE hate crimes leading up to the presidential elections, which are scheduled for November 28.
Because of our concern over the lethal violence against opposition party officials and candidates, we urge that authorities in Honduras:
- carry out a thorough and impartial investigation into the assassination Nery Fernando Reyes Pineda, publish the results, and bring the perpetrators to justice
- carry out a thorough and impartial investigation into the attempted assassination of Olivia Zúniga Cáceres, publish the results, and bring the perpetrators to justice
- implement security measures for Olivia Zúniga Cáceres, in strict accordance with her wishes
- respect the rights of all voters and candidates before, during, and after the election on November 28
Brian J. Stefan Szittai and Christine Stonebraker-Martinez