For Immediate Release
Honduras: New Reports of Abuses
De Facto Government Should Refrain From Excessive Force Against Zelaya Backers
WASHINGTON - Honduras's de facto government should refrain
from using excessive force against supporters of the ousted president,
Manuel Zelaya, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities should
also refrain from abusing emergency powers to undermine the basic
rights of protesters, journalists, and others in Honduras.
Human Rights Watch has received credible reports that police used
excessive force - wielding truncheons and firing tear gas and rubber
bullets - today to disperse thousands of Zelaya supporters who gathered
outside the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa, where the deposed
president has obtained refuge. Since Zelaya returned to Honduras on
September 21, the de facto government has imposed a nationwide curfew.
"Given the reports we have received, and the poor track record of
the security forces since the coup, we fear that conditions could
deteriorate drastically in the coming days," said José Miguel Vivanco,
Americas director at Human Rights Watch.
Human Rights Watch and other rights monitors have documented repeated violations by security forces since the coup d'état in June 2009. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights issued a report
on August 21 documenting violations under the de facto government that
included excessive use of force, arbitrary detention, sexual violence,
and attacks on the media, as well as several confirmed deaths and
possible "disappearances." The commission also documented the absence
of effective legal protections from abuse.
In June, following the coup, the Honduran Congress approved an
emergency decree that provides for the temporary suspension of basic
rights, including the right to "personal liberty," freedom of
association, freedom of movement, and protections against arbitrary
detention. International law recognizes that states may temporarily
derogate from some of their human rights obligations, but only under
exceptional circumstances, including in time of war, public danger, or
another emergency that threatens the independence or security of the
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Human Rights Watch is one of the world's leading independent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights. By focusing international attention where human rights are violated, we give voice to the oppressed and hold oppressors accountable for their crimes. Our rigorous, objective investigations and strategic, targeted advocacy build intense pressure for action and raise the cost of human rights abuse. For 30 years, Human Rights Watch has worked tenaciously to lay the legal and moral groundwork for deep-rooted change and has fought to bring greater justice and security to people around the world.