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Canada “deeply concerned” about human rights in Honduras

In Council Watch
Mar 16th, 2018
James Hill, Canadian ambassador to Costa Rica, Honduras and Nicaragua.

James Hill, Canadian ambassador to Costa Rica, Honduras and Nicaragua.

Canada reiterates concerns following publication of OHCHR report on human rights violations in the context of the 2017 elections in Honduras

From Embassy of Canada, San José, Costa Rica – Canada is deeply concerned by the observations outlined in the recent report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on human rights violations following the 2017 elections.

The report notes the excessive force to control protests, leading to the death of at least 22 civilians, of which 16 were allegedly shot by security forces. Among many other issues, the OHCHR also notes mass and indiscriminate arrests under the state of emergency, as well the lack of a clear rationale for placing individuals in pre-trial detention in maximum security prisons.

Canada fully supports the OHCHR recommendation for prompt, impartial, independent and transparent investigations into all allegations of human rights violations related to the 2017 election. This is essential for reconciliation efforts. Canada also calls upon the Honduran authorities to ensure that those charged with criminal offences during the protests will be treated with transparency, and in full compliance with due process and human rights principles.

In February 2018, Canada announced that it would provide $3 million over five years to support the work of the OHCHR in Honduras.

Statements made in December by the Minister of Foreign Affairs on the situation in Honduras.

Honduras election protests met with excessive and lethal force – UN report

From the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights March 13 2018

Members of the Honduran security forces, in particular the military police, used excessive – including lethal – force to control and disperse protests that erupted following November’s disputed presidential election, a report the UN Human Rights Office said on Monday.

The report details human rights violations that happened between voting day on 26 November and the presidential inauguration on 27 January. It found that at least 22 civilians and one police officer were killed during the protests. Of these, at least 16 people, including two women and two children, were shot dead by the security forces. The report also documents the killing of 15 individuals in the run-up to the elections, including party candidates, municipal councillors and activists.

While some of the protesters became violent, the report notes that, “analysis of the type of injuries suffered by the victims indicate that the security forces made intentional lethal use of firearms, including beyond dissuasive or self-defense (legitimate) purposes, such as when protestors were fleeing.” This was illustrated by the deaths of seven individuals who received shots to the head.

“These cases raise serious concerns and may amount to extra-judicial killings,” the report says. According to information received, by 27 January, no charges had been brought against any member of the security forces in relation to the killings and injuries.

In addition, some 1,351 people were detained between 1 and 5 December for violating a curfew imposed as part of a state of emergency declared on 1 December. The state of emergency’s imprecise and broad grounds for detaining people, including those “somehow suspected” of causing damage or committing crimes, went beyond what was required by the situation, resulting in mass and indiscriminate arrests, and discouraging people from exercising the right to peaceful assembly and of association.

The report also highlights “credible and consistent allegations of ill-treatment of persons at the time of arrest and/or detention,” illegal house raids, and a surge in “threats and intimidation against journalists, media workers, and social and political activists.”

The human rights violations described in the report, took place “in the context of a political, economic and social crisis, which can be traced back to the 2009 military coup d’état and significant delays to undertake critical institutional, political, economic and social reforms.” The report urges the Honduran Government to engage in a participatory national dialogue on reforms to promote development, human rights and reconciliation.

“The already fragile human rights situation in Honduras, which suffers from high levels of violence and insecurity, is likely to deteriorate further unless there is true accountability for human rights violations, and reforms are taken to address the deep political and social polarization in the country,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.

Among its recommendations, the report calls on the authorities to restrict the use of of the military police and armed forces in law enforcement functions, and to regulate the use of force by all security and law enforcement agencies, in line with applicable international human rights norms and standards. There should be prompt, impartial, independent and transparent investigations into all allegations of human rights violations that took place in the context of the elections, the report recommends.

Full report

For updates on Spring family efforts: Simcoe Conty Honduras Rights Monitor 

Upcoming: April 8 meeting in Elmvale

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