Extrajudicial execution of Herminio Deras: the State of Honduras acknowledges responsibility

Press release
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Jimena Reyes

On 12 May 2022, before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR), the State of Honduras acknowledged full responsibility for the extrajudicial execution of Herminio Deras García, union leader and member of the Communist Party, as well as for human rights violations against his family members—including arbitrary detentions, torture and cruel treatment, and violations of their political rights, rights of association, and freedom of expression.

These events occurred in a context of systematic human rights violations in Honduras in the 1980s.

The Honduran State Attorney, Manuel Antonio Díaz Galeas, acknowledged the human rights violations against Herminio Deras García and his family, and expressed that it is a priority of the current government presided by Xiomara Castro to carry out public acts of apology, as well as to adopt measures for the protection of fundamental rights that aim at the demilitarisation of public security and the separation of police-military activities.

The family members hope that this means that Honduras will enter an era of respect for political pluralism, "not only for us as the Deras family, but also for all citizens and all the different viewpoints that may exist in a society. We remember that this year, like last year and the year before, community leaders were murdered in Honduras who protested and defended human rights". In addition, they recognize the inclusion of comprehensive public policies related to memory.

The Inter-American Court will issue a judgment on facts and law.

This case is emblematic for the violence that was exercised by the Honduran State in the 1980s, within the framework of the National Security Doctrine, through which leaders of unions and political, student, and popular organisations identified as opponents of the then-government were assassinated and disappeared.

The harassment against Herminio Deras began after his first victories as a union advisor in the North of the country, with arbitrary detentions, raids and machine-gunning of his house. This culminated in his assassination in 1983, with the morgue refusing to admit his body. His children, siblings, parents, uncles, nephews, nieces and cousins—including four children— were also arbitrarily detained and assaulted, suffering death threats and physical and psychological torture. The stigmatisation destroyed the family and drove several of its members to leave the country. 

Their representatives, Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras (COFADEH) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) admire the perseverance and determination of the family members in their struggle for justice during decades of impunity. Without their steadfast resolve, this moment that opens debate in Honduras about the serious human rights violations of the 1980s would not have been possible.

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