28 January 2010
Amnesty International on Thursday issued a series of recommendations to newly elected Honduran President Porfirio Lobo to repair the damage done to human rights since the June 2009 coup d'état, which left hundreds seeking justice.
The 13 recommendations include issues relating to investigations into the human rights abuses committed by security forces, rejecting amnesty laws for those responsible for the crimes, training judges on international human rights legislation and setting up an effective witness protection programme.
"Honduras' devastating coup d'état has left the country in urgent need of a programme of human rights reconstruction with clear objectives and a timeline for completion," said Kerrie Howard, Deputy Director of Amnesty International's Americas programme.
"If President Lobo wants to restore the rule of law and confidence in his government, he must ensure the abuses of the past seven months are dealt with quickly and effectively."
Amnesty International's report also summarizes 20 cases which include police killings, arbitrary detentions, beatings and ill-treatment in detention, sexual abuse of women and girls, harassment of journalists, judges and activists.
No-one has been held to account for these abuses and few investigations have been opened.
On 1 August, 38-year-old teacher Roger Abraham Vallejo died in hospital as a result of injuries sustained from a bullet wound to the head, caused by a rubber bullet reportedly fired by police during the break up of a protest in Tegucigalpa in July. An investigation into the killing is open but no advances have been reported.
On 23 September, 16-year-old Gerson Ariel Cruz was seriously wounded by police following the break up of a protest in Tegucigalpa. According to an eyewitness, the police chased protesters into a residential neighbourhood where they opened fire with live ammunition. Gerson, who had taken no part in the protest, was shot in the stomach.
When family members tried to take him to hospital they were turned back from a police roadblock, substantially delaying their journey to seek emergency treatment. Gerson survived but sustained serious injuries from which he has still not fully recovered. The shooting was reported to the Special Prosecutor for Human Rights and an investigation is on-going.
"There are dozens of cases of killings, beatings, sexual harassment and other abuses by the security forces against members of the opposition movement and those seen as critical of the coup d'état which need to be urgently investigated," said Kerrie Howard. "Hondurans will expect President Lobo to provide answers and a resolution to the hundreds of human rights abuses committed by the security forces since 28 June 2009."
Honduran President Porfirio Lobo took office on 27 January. He was elected in November last year amidst a political crisis that saw President Manuel Zelaya ousted by military-backed right wing politicians in June.