Honduras: In the current electoral situation, international organisations are standing up to violence against human rights defenders

Press release
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The regional and international organisations and networks that work to bolster the protection of human rights defenders in Honduras are deeply concerned by the increase in political violence and the repression of social protest in this Central American country, unleashed in the context of the electoral process and the declaration of a state of emergency.

This situation aggravates the violence and violation of the human rights of defenders, organisations and communities that defend human rights in the country, which has been the subject of numerous recommendations and condemnations by the international community. Murders, threats, criminalisation, violations of indigenous peoples’ right to consultation, and other forms of aggression have constrained the space in which defenders and communities condemning human rights violations can act and have seriously damaged democratic institutions.

As pointed out by experts from the United Nations and the Inter-American system, Honduras has become one of the most dangerous countries for human rights defenders [1]. It was for this reason that the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights called on the Honduran government in July to increase protection for human rights defenders and create spaces for dialogue and substantial participation of society [2]

However, the legitimate complaints expressed by Hondurans about irregularities in the current electoral process once again have been met by the Honduran state with violence, criminalisation of social protest and declaration of a state of emergency which violates fundamental rights. Different human rights organisations and communications media in Honduras have documented the excessive use of force by State agents against demonstrators, arbitrary arrests and other repressive acts which have cost lives and injured a still undetermined number of people. This infringement of rights is particularly dangerous for communities and sectors of society that are marginalised and discriminated against, such as women and indigenous peoples.

In light of this situation, the signatories of this document call on the government of Honduras to:

- Immediately end the state of emergency declared on 1 December 2017 and guarantee the right of social protest and freedom of expression in Honduras.

- Investigate all instances of human rights violations against demonstrators, organisations and communities during protests relating to the elections.

- Address the social demand to respect the will of the people as expressed through the ballot box, which means, amongst other things, supporting the calls made by the dissenting social organisations and movements, and addressing the recommendations which were publicly issued by the OAS Mission on 3 December and the European Union Election Observation Mission on 4 December. Both missions call for a fully transparent vote recount and review of the records. Likewise, resolve, in accordance with the law, any challenge or complaint of irregularity during the elections before the TSE officially announces the result of the election.

We call on the Organisation of American States, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IAHCR) and other international protection bodies to issue a categorical call and activate the necessary mechanisms to ensure that the Honduran government guarantees the population’s human rights.

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