United States Secretary of State John Kerry is being pressed by members of the Senate to review foreign policy in Honduras to ensure the US is supporting and strengthening human rights in the country. On June 19, 2013, 21 Senators sent a letter to Secretary Kerry drawing attention to widespread corruption, instances of extrajudicial killings, and ongoing impunity in Honduras.
Due to its high murder rates and extreme violence, Honduras has been designated one of the most violent countries in the world. During a fact finding delegation in 2012, the Nobel Women’s Initiative found that extreme militarization has prompted a significant rise in the violation of human rights, especially in the rights of women.
Since the 2009 coup d’étatin Honduras, state security forces have been implicated in human rights violations, and there has been a significant rise in sexual violence and femicide. On average, one Honduran woman is killed everyday.
There has also been a crackdown by the government on journalists and human rights defenders. Berta Cáceres Flores, co-founder and leader of the Council for Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, leads social movements that speak out against militarization, human rights, and economic justice issues in the country. Recently, the Honduran military arrested and imprisoned Flores overnight with little evidence of any wrongdoings. A judge recently overturned the charges only after significant protests by the international community pressuring for her release. Berta’s story is an example of the daily threat faced by activists in the region.
In recent years, the United States has intensified its presence in Honduras in support of the “War on Drugs,” directly contributing to to the significant militarization in the region. The Senators called for a thorough review of aid to Honduras to ensure that it is not contributing to human rights abuses in the country perpetrated by the military forces. Along the same lines, the letter also asked the Department of State to provide Congress with an assessment on Honduran government efforts to protect human rights and investigate extrajudicial killings involving police and military personnel.
With the next elections in Honduras scheduled for November, the State Department has been urged to take steps in ensuring that it contributes to a free, fair and peaceful process that will support peace and justice at the local level.
21 US senators call for human rights accountability in Honduras, Rights Action, June 21, 2013.
From Survivors to Defenders: Women Confronting Violence in Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala, Nobel Women’s Initiative, June 1, 2012.
After the Coup: Ongoing Violence, Intimidation, and Impunity in Honduras, Human Rights Watch, December 20, 2010.
Send copies of this letter to your US Congress representative or Canadian Member of Parliament asking them to endorse this letter. Urge them to be vigilant about repression increasing in Honduras in lead up to the November elections.