Activists harassed amid post-electoral crisis
La ONU recomienda a Honduras una serie de medidas para establecer un diálogo nacional... https://t.co/jacTXcfGd0— Victor Mosquera Marin Abogados (@DDHHyDIH) February 26, 2018
As reported before on the Monitor, between 6th and 10th February, a delegation of UN representatives visited Honduras to assess potential openings to start a formal dialogue between actors involved in the conflict. The delegation issued a series of recommendations "that could establish the basis for dialogue, help reduce tensions and generate confidence in an eventual process". For example, the UN recommended the creation of an independent commission of inquiry into the post-electoral environment, including the allegations of human rights violations.
Honduras is currently on the Monitor's Watch List of countries where there is an urgent, immediate and developing threat to civic space.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) granted precautionary measures to human rights defender Joaquin Mejia on 28th January. Mejia is a prominent activist in the country working with the organisation Equipo de Reflexión, Investigación y Comunicación de la Compañía de Jesús and with an independent radio station. He has been one of the most critical voices in relation to the electoral process that resulted in the reelection of President Hernández. As a consequence, he received threatening messages, calls and was the subject of a smear campaign on social media.
On 19th February, Wilfredo Mendez, an activist with Centro de Investigación y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos (CIPRODEH), reported on his Facebook account that he was intimidated by unknown men who pointed guns at him while he was driving in the city of La Ceiba, where Mendez was presenting a report on the relation of corruption and human rights.
In a separate development, the Movimiento Amplio por la Dignidad y la Justicia (MADJ) reported that the house of Luis Garcia was raided on 22nd February. Garcia is part of MADJ and a leader in the region of Atlantida, where he led the protests against the allegations of electoral fraud. He had to leave Atlantida due to constant intimidation by police officers. When his house was raided, the police allegedly found two house bombs and arrested Garcia’s wife. The MADJ had already reported illegal raids on its premises, which was reported previously on the Monitor.
On 26th February, the IACHR held a hearing between the State of Honduras and representatives of different CSOs to address the post-electoral crisis. CSOs’ representatives explained that during in the post-electoral context they registered 38 people killed in the context of the conflict, 192 cases of protest repression, 76 victims of torture, 393 people injured during protests, 1,257 arrests, 105 displaced people for political violence, 73 activists threatened and 24 political prisoners. The State of Honduras committed to creating an institution that will investigate attacks against Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) and journalists and invited the IACHR to conduct an official visit to the country to assess the real situation.
In a separate and positive development, on March 2nd, Roberto Castillo was arrested for helping to plan Berta Caceres’ murder. Castillo was the executive president of Desarrollos Energeticos S.A., the company Caceres’ organisation was fighting to prevent them building a series of hydroelectric dams in the Gualcarque river basin. Castillo was trying to leave the country when he was arrested by police.
Honduras dicta prisión preventiva contra el presunto asesino de Berta Cácereshttps://t.co/5JuDaNLoTl— Notimérica (@notimerica) March 12, 2018
On 27th February, it was reported that police officers repressed a protest in front of the United Nations (UN) headquarters in Honduras. At the time, UN representatives were having a meeting with opposition leaders, while a group of citizens protested outside.
A group of workers in banana fields were notified on 28th February that 77 of them would be dismissed and 700 suspended after a 63-day strike. The strike started because company - Chiquita Honduras - decided to move the health services of the workers to San Pedro Sula, far from the banana fields. The workers had been receiving medical attention in the town of La Lima for over 40 years. The workers argued that their contract stipulated their right to access a health care facility in a nearby location.
Clashes between police officers and students of the National University of Honduras (UNAH) were reported on 28th February. The students were demanding justice in the case of Berta Caceres - a woman human rights defender who was murdered because of her peaceful activism. They blocked the entrance to the university and police used tear gas to forcibly remove the blockade from the university’s entrance.
Four journalists from Televictoria and Choluvisión in the city of Choluteca reported that they were chased five blocks down a street after they left a public institution and were heading back to the media outlets where they work. The motive behind the harassment has not yet been identified.