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May-June 2012

Vol. 37, No. 3


Honduras: Continued concern for human rights

In April, a number of religious groups, including the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, wrote a letter to the State and Foreign Operations subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives' Appropriations committee, urging that the 2013 appropriations bill reflect a commitment to promote human rights and to reject military oppression in Honduras. The text of the letter reads:

We are faith-based organizations who have worked for many decades to help improve the human rights situation in Latin America. Recently we have been especially concerned about rising levels of abuses by police and military officials in Honduras.

Honduran families vigil for lost loved ones

We write to you as you work to prepare the 2013 appropriations bill with two requests to help improve the human rights situation in Latin America: 1) maintain the human rights conditions on military and police aid to Latin America and the Caribbean that were signed into law for FY2012; and 2) cut all military and police assistance to Honduras.

Human rights conditions on U.S. military assistance are critical to encouraging positive changes in the hemisphere.

Photo of families mourning loved ones is courtesy of Upside Down World, which writes: "The International Human Rights Gathering in Solidarity with Honduras took place on February 17-20 in Tocoa (Bajo Aguán region), and was organized by the Permanent Observatory for Human Rights in Aguán and other organizations. The objective was to give voice to the victims of the violence of the government, raise awareness of the political situation in the country, and share experiences, searching for common strategies at the national and international levels to check the repression."

In the case of Honduras, while there has been a dramatic increase in street crime in the aftermath of the illegal coup, we are especially concerned about repeated examples of police and military officials using excessive force against non-violent protestors; threatening and attacking journalists, human rights defenders and landless peasants; credible high-level allegations of institutional corruption; and undermining investigations of security forces.

In July 2011 the U.S.-supported Truth Commission, established by President Porfirio Lobo's administration to investigate events before and after the coup, delivered its report. The commissioners documented the cases of 20 people, 12 of whom they concluded had been killed due to excessive police or army force, and eight of whom had died in selective killings by government agents. The commission also reported that police and army officials were responsible for "systematic obstruction" of investigations into these abuses, including altering crime scenes and official documents, criminal negligence, and helping suspects escape. The overwhelming majority of these cases remain in impunity.

We ask that the U.S. suspend military and police aid to Honduras until that government uses civilian courts to seriously investigate police and military officials who are credibly alleged to have violated human rights and the police and military cooperate actively with these cases.
We hope that you will see the importance of including these items in the 2013 budget and thank you for your consideration.

Faith in action:

Contact your member of the U.S. House; use the language in the letter to remind him/her to to suspend military and police aid to Honduras until the government investigates and prosecutes those responsible for human rights abuses. §

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