Wednesday 6.7.2016 in Latest Developments in Honduras Country Page
Freedom of association in Honduras is undermined by constant attacks and harassment of activists, particularly those working to promote land and environmental rights. On March 2, the social activist Berta Cáceres was killed, even though she was had been placed under State protection, as ordered by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). A 2015 report from the IACHR highlights the need to protect social activists like Cáceres. Upon a recommendation of the IACHR, the Honduran government introduced a new law that creates the Protection System for Human Rights Defenders. According to Honduran government, four activists now benefit from State protection under this law.
Police consistently used force to deal with recent protests in Honduras. In November 2015, during the No Violence Against Women Day, a group of women were peacefully protesting outside the President’s office when they were attacked by police. On May 10th, 2016, a group of indigenous people were violently repressed outside the President’s office after they gathered to demand an investigation into Berta Cáceres’ murder. On June 9th, students protesting against education reforms were violently dispersed by police using tear gas and water cannon.
The Committee for Free Expression documented the killing of 12 journalists in 2015. Impunity for such crimes still prevails, and there have only been 3 convictions out of 58 murders that are under investigation. Additionally, in Honduras, defamation is a criminal offence, punishable with time in jail. This allows politicians, business people, and any other person who is subject to criticism, to intimidate journalists by instituting legal proceedings against them; thereby causing a chilling effect on free speech.