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On behalf of IRTF's Rapid Response Network (RRN) members, we wrote six letters this month to heads of state and other high-level officials in Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico, urging their swift action in response to human rights abuses occurring in their countries.  We join with civil society groups in Latin America to: (1) protect people living under threat, (2) demand investigations into human rights crimes, (3) bring human rights criminals to justice.

IRTF’s Rapid Response Network (RRN) volunteers write six letters in response to urgent human rights cases each month. We send copies of these letters to US ambassadors, embassy human rights officers, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, regional representatives of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and desk officers at the US State Department. To read the letters, see https://www.irtfcleveland.org/content/rrn , or ask us to mail you hard copies.

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On June 20th, a Honduran court finally presented the written verdict in the case against U.S. trained former military intelligence officer Roberto David Castillo for the murder of Berta Cáceres, sentencing him to 22 years and 6 months in prison. Laura Zúniga Cáceres, Berta's youngest daughter explained, "This is an important advance but the masterminds of the crime are still enjoying impunity thanks to their political and economic power. As victims of this crime, we, her family, members of Copinh and the Lenca people will continue demanding justice from the Honduran state."

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Now in its third month, El Salvador’s state of exception rolls on with no end in sight. The protracted emergency, which has thrown all constitutional guarantees aside, began after the gangs—MS-13 and Barrio 18—unleashed a homicide wave at the end of March that left 87 people dead in the quick span of 72 hours. The government responded with a forceful crackdown that has since detained more than 40,000 Salvadorans, the vast majority of whom have little to do with gang activity. According to the human rights group Cristosal, at least 18 people have been killed in custody.

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A trove of Dutch and U.S. legal and financial documents shared with The Intercept reveal, for the first time, the flow of international funding in the days leading up to March 2, 2016, when a hit squad broke into Cáceres’s house and killed her. The bank provided the documents to two Dutch human rights lawyers, Wout Albers and Ron Rosenhart Rodriguez, who have spent the past two years representing Cáceres’s family and COPINH, the organization she co-founded, in a civil lawsuit that seeks to hold FMO accountable for its role in the Agua Zarca project. 

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he Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice ordered the definitive release of five other defenders of the Guapinol River, in a ruling dated June 3, 2022 and notified to the lawyers on June 21 of this year. This unanimous decision was taken after the legal representatives filed an Appeal for Protection (Amparo) in June 2020. The defendants favored by this decision of the Court are Juan Antonio López and Leonel George of the Committee of Common Goods of Tocoa, Colón and the defendants of Guapinol Reynaldo Domínguez, José Adaly Cedillo and Marco Tulio Ramos, all accused by the mining company Inversiones Los Pinares and by the Public Ministry, of Unjust Deprivation of Liberty, Aggravated Arson, Theft and Unlawful Association to the detriment of the Chief of Security of said company, against the mining company and the Internal Security of the State of Honduras.

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Three asylum seekers were kidnapped in April while in a U.S. migration program that had placed them in the care of Mexican officials in the city of Nuevo Laredo, across the border from Texas, one of the victims and the U.N. migration agency said. The case is the first known kidnapping under the revamped MPP, said Dana Graber Ladek, Chief of Mission in Mexico for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), a United Nations agency that helps transport people under the program. U.S. President Joe Biden, a Democrat, ended MPP soon after taking office last year as part of a push to reverse the hardline immigration policies of his Republican predecessor Donald Trump, but was forced to reinstate it in December under court order. In re-implementing the program, the Biden administration promised new measures would enhance protection for migrants.

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El Salvador extended a controversial state of emergency to combat gangs for the third time on Tuesday, prompting criticism from human rights organizations over the suspension of constitutional protections. President Nayib Bukele's government first passed what was meant to be a 30-day measure in late March after the Central American country's murder rate spiked. Lawmakers overwhelmingly voted to extend the measure for another month beginning June 25, giving security forces extra powers to fight violent gangs. The extension passed with 67 votes in favor out of a possible 84, with 15 against.

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