Concerns about human rights in Honduras have intensified since the democratically elected President José Manuel Zelaya Rosales was forced from power on June 28 and expelled from the country by a military-backed group of politicians led by Roberto Micheletti, former leader of the National Congress. There has been widespread unrest in the country since the coup d’etat with frequent clashes between the police, military and civilian protestors. At least two people have died after being shot during protests.
The use of live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas by the police and military led to the death of at least 10 people. The arbitrary and indiscriminate use of tear gas, with insufficient warning or precautions, caused physical harm to scores of protesters, including children. Hospitals were not given information about the chemical substances used, hindering them from providing treatment.
Nineteen-year-old Isis Obed Murillo died from a gunshot wound to the head on 5 July after members of the military fired live ammunition during a demonstration at Toncontín airport in Tegucigalpa. The military reportedly refused to co-operate with the investigation into his death.
In August, 38-year-old teacher Roger Abraham Vallejo died in hospital as a result of injuries sustained from a bullet wound to the head, reportedly fired by police during the break-up of a protest in Tegucigalpa in July.
In September, 16-year-old Gerson Ariel Cruz was seriously wounded by police following the break-up of a protest in Tegucigalpa. According to an eyewitness, the police chased protesters into a residential neighbourhood where they opened fire, shooting Gerson Ariel Cruz, who had taken no part in the protest. An investigation by the Special Prosecutor for Human Rights was under way at the end of the year.
Women demonstrators and women in custody reported sexual abuse and harassment by police officers. Many women reported being beaten on the buttocks and backs of the legs by police during demonstrations. No investigations were conducted into gender-based violence during the disturbances.
N. was separated from her family during a demonstration in Choloma on 14 August. She was arbitrarily detained by police officers who, after dropping other detainees off at a police station, took N. to a remote location where four police officers raped her consecutively.
A 34-year-old woman told Amnesty International that she and her 59-year-old mother were repeatedly beaten across the back of the thighs and buttocks by police using batons during one protest.
Evidence emerged of a sharp rise in the number of killings of transgender women following the June coup. Between 2004 and March 2009, human rights organizations had registered 17 cases of killings of transgender women. Between the end of June and December 2009, 12 such cases were reported by local human rights organizations. No data was available about investigations into these killings.
A federal appeals court ruled yesterday that Kelly Gonzalez Aguilar, a transgender woman, should have been granted asylum based on a record of “extensive evidence of widespread violence against transgender individuals in Honduras.”
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