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Update – Edwin Espinal and other political prisoners at La Tolva

In Council Watch
Mar 4th, 2018
Karen Spring waiting outside La Tolva prison

Karen Spring waiting outside La Tolva prison on Friday


March 8 UPDATE from Janet Spring

Edwin ended his hunger strike on Tuesday March 6, when he was finally seen by a doctor and treated for the virus. Yet he still suffers from dehydration and lack of energy and must advocate for a second doctor’s visit. We are unsure however if all ill prisoners have been treated to date, due to the escalation of the virus. Edwin believes that people in his living area who were ill were also treated yet he does not know the condition of others residing outside of his cell and pod area. There is a lack of communication between different areas of the prison. Amnesty International is now investigating this issue. By Thursday March 8, Edwin was feeling a bit better, yet many other detainees are still sick with the same virus.

March 5 2018 UPDATE from Simcoe County Honduras Rights Monitor

Not a good scene last night and this morning at La Tolva Prison, Honduras where Edwin Espinal and other political prisoners are demanding a physician as they are facing serious illness. This morning the prison shut the water off after 5 minutes. Prisoners banged on the walls to make as much noise possible so they shot tear gas at them. Simcoe County Honduras Rights Monitor learned of this at 6:45 AM today.

Contact your MPs, Ambassador to Honduras

From Janet Spring March 4 2018

The Spring family is asking that you urgently contact your MPs and the Ambassador to Honduras to draw their attention to inhumane and dangerous conditions at the jail where Edwin Espinal, our son-in-law, has started a hunger strike. Edwin faces trumped-up charges on crimes related to the post-electoral crisis in Honduras and is being held in the military-run, maximum security “La Tolva” prison in southeastern Honduras.

Since last Wednesday Edwin has been suffering from virus-like symptoms that include a sore throat, cough, severe headache, difficulty breathing, diarrhea, and sinus pain. On Saturday morning, it worsened. The virus has spread throughout the prison and the prison director – Osman Rodas – has refused to provide sick prisoners needed medical attention to see a doctor and provide any required medication. He left the prison on Friday for the weekend knowing full well that the flu virus is running rampant in the prison.

To make matters worse, the prison is experiencing a severe water shortage so serious that detainees are not allowed to defecate except during a one-hour period in the morning. Toilets are only flushed after this hour and left for 24 hours until the next flush. This terrible health environment will continue to escalate any illness that is spreading throughout the prison. Edwin is also complaining that food is scarce; the morning meal often does not arrive until after the noon hour. Furthermore, detainees are also restricted to fresh air and are only allowed a one-hour period of daylight every two weeks.

In the past week, Karen has finally been granted visitation rights for three visits, after long and detailed meetings with the National Penitentiary Institute. This denial of family visits is a human rights offense; a visitor permit is a very costly article. Most Honduran family members are unable to afford the $150 US fee charged for a visitation permission letter; this fee is approximately half of a regular family’s monthly income. This form must be renewed every six months.

On Friday March 2, 2018, Karen visited the prison and was able to verify the details of this serious health issue in the prison. She is very concerned for the state of Edwin’s health as well as 20 other prisoners who are suffering from the same symptoms. Edwin has made a decision to refuse food until all sick prisoners are provided with the medical attention they need.

Our family fears that Edwin may suffer further persecution and repression by prison authorities for taking a dignified stance on these issues inside the prison. We are therefore asking our community to contact their MPs and Honduran officials as listed below and demand that action take place.

Thank you for your help in this upsetting and serious matter. Please contact Canadian authorities listed below and demand that they:

• Directly pressure appropriate Honduran authorities to immediately guarantee full and proper medical attention, food and water inside the prison.

• Send Canadian authorities to the prison to visit prisoners directly and to verify conditions inside the prison.

• Pressure that all charges be immediately dropped and all 27 political prisoners around the country be released!

Member of Parliament

Ambassador James Hill, Embassy of Canada in Costa Rica, Honduras and Nicaragua: james.hill@international.gc.ca, tglpa@international.gc.ca

Minister Chrystia Freeland, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Global Affairs Canada: Chrystia.freeland@international.gc.ca, chrystia.freeland@international.gc.ca

Canadian Embassy for Honduras:

-Bertrand-Xavier Asselin: Bertrand-xavier.asselin@international.gc.ca

-Isabelle Solon-Helal: isabelle.solonhelal@international.gc.ca

-Kyle Sundstrom: kyle.sundstrom@international.gc.ca

We thank you for your continued support. Janet Spring and family

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