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New Honduras President Must Order Investigation into Rights Abuses
LONDON - Amnesty International today urged the
new Honduran President to order a full investigation into abuses
committed by the security forces following June’s coup d’etat, bring
those responsible to justice and provide reparations to the victims.
Honduran President Porfirio Lobo, who is set to take office on 27
January, was elected in November last year amidst a political crisis
that saw President Manuel Zelaya ousted by military-backed right wing
politicians in June.
Hundreds of people opposed to the coup d’état were beaten and
detained by the security forces as protests erupted during the
following months. More than 10 were killed during the unrest, according
“President Lobo must ensure a fresh start on human rights in
Honduras by ensuring abuses committed since the coup d’état are not
forgotten and do not go unpunished,” said Kerrie Howard, Americas
Deputy Director at Amnesty International.
The organisation also called on Honduran security forces to co-operate with any investigations into alleged abuses.
Since the presidential elections, the Honduran Congress has
discussed the possible introduction of an amnesty law that would reduce
or deny punishment for those responsible for human rights violations.
“Proposals to introduce amnesty measures for human rights violations
are simply unacceptable,” said Kerrie Howard. “Failure to sanction
abuses that took place during the coup d’etat could give a green light
to further violations in Honduras.”
According to dozens of testimonies collected by Amnesty
International’s researchers in Honduras during two visits to the
country, human rights abuses spiralled following the June coup d'etat.
Following the coup d'etat people who took to the streets to
demonstrate their opposition were targets of widespread excessive use
of force by the security forces, including unlawful killings, torture
and ill-treatment, as well as hundreds of arbitrary arrests. The police
and military also widely misused tear gas and other crowd control
Human rights activists, opposition leaders and judges suffered
threats and intimidation, media outlets closed and journalists were
censored. There were also reports of security force personnel
committing acts of sexual violence against women and girls.
Noone has been held to account for these abuses and few investigations have been opened as yet.
On 27 November 2009, 32-year-old Angel Salgado was driving home in
the capital Tegucigalpa with three friends when, according to eye
witnesses military, officials fired shots at their car as it drove by
an unmarked check point.
Angel Salgado was hit in the head by a bullet. He lost control of
the vehicle, which then crashed and injured several bystanders.
According to eye witnesses, military personnel began cleaning the
scene of evidence immediately after the incident took place. After
passing five days in a coma, Angel Salgado died in hospital on 2
On 14 August 2009, a police officer sprayed lawyer Nicolás Ramiro
Aguilar Fajardo directly in the face with an unknown chemical spray,
temporarily blinding him. At the time, Nicolás was trying to stop the
police officer from beating a colleague.
Honduran President Manuel Zelaya Rosales was forced from power on 28
June 2009 and expelled from the country by a military backed group of
right-wing politicians led by Roberto Micheletti, former president of
the national Congress.
A de facto government headed by Roberto Micheletti remained in power
until the end of the year. President Zelaya returned clandestinely to
the country and took up residency in the Brazilian Embassy in
Despite the failure of political negotiations mediated by the
Organization of American States to restore the elected government, in
November the de facto authorities proceeded with elections, Porfirio
Lobo of the National Party won 88% of the vote and takes office on 27
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