Where can Human Rights Defenders turn to in Honduras?

March 30, 2015

White crosses in memory of those victims of violence are seen around Tegucigalpa after being placed by members of human rights organizations, on July 9, 2014. (ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP/Getty Images)

Victims of abuses in Honduras rely upon the work of human rights defenders in their country for help. But what happens when the defenders themselves become the target of threats and violence?

Amnesty International’s recent report, Defending Human Rights in the Americas: Necessary, Legitimate and Dangerous, features several examples of abuses directed against human rights defenders in Honduras:

  • Indigenous leader Tomás García was killed when the military fired on community protest against a hydroelectric project on July 15, 2013. His 17-year-old son was also wounded in the attack.
  • On July 24, 2013, two international volunteers were temporarily abducted by over 30 armed men. They had been accompanying a rural community that faced threats after protesting against a mining project. The captors accused the volunteers of being communists and made sexual threats against the female volunteer.
  • Judge Mireya Efigenia Mendoza Peña was killed when assailants fired 20 shots at her car in El Progreso, Yoro Department on July 24, 2013. She was a member of the Association of Judges for Democracy.
  • Margarita Murillo, a rural leader with over 40 years’ experience defending human rights and of the improvement of the living standards of peasants in Honduras, was shot and killed on the morning of August 27, 2014.
  • On November 11, 2014, Juan Ángel López was shot in the back while returning to his homein Rigores, Bajo Aguán. He was an active member of the Unified Peasant Movement of the Río Aguán Left Bank, was well as the president of the Cristo Rey cooperative.

Unfortunately, the human rights defenders who face such threats and attacks have nowhere to turn in Honduras. Widespread impunity means that their assailants are very unlikely to be brought to justice. Furthermore, human rights defenders often fear the police.

Please join Amnesty International in calling on the President and National Congress of Honduras to approve, fully fund, and implement a special law to establish a legal mechanism to protect human rights