Press Release

IACHR Condemns the murder of a person deprived of liberty in Honduras

December 28, 2015

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its concern over the violent death of a person deprived of liberty at the National Penitentiary “Marco Aurelio Soto”, in Támara, Honduras. The IACHR urges the State to investigate and clarify the circumstances in which his death occurred and, where appropriate, identify and punish those responsible.

According to publicly available information, 41-year-old Mr. Luis Beltrand López was found dead in one of the halls of the diagnostic services of the National Penitentiary "Marco Aurelio Soto” in Honduras. The information from available sources to the Commission is not unanimous regarding the cause of death of Mr. Beltrand López, recently admitted to the detention center. From one side it is indicated that he was deprived of his life by the same inmates of the National Penitentiary of Támara; but other sources indicate that he had committed suicide. The national press reported that forensic-medicine experts forensics personnel of the Criminal Investigation Department (“CID”)visited the prison to conduct the investigations. So far, national authorities have not made any formal declaration regarding this incident

The Inter-American Commission observes that this serious incident took place in a context of violence that prevails in Honduran jails. On March 29, 2015, in this same detention center, four inmates with ties to the “Mara 18” gang were killed, allegedly by other members of their own gang. These incidents were referred by the Commission in its press release 39/15, of April 14, 2015.

In the preliminary observations concerning the onsite visit to Honduras in 2014, the Commission observed that the State of Honduras failed to comply with the decisions of the inter-American human rights system, regarding the immediate adoption of the necessary measures to ensure that internal control of all prisons is in line with international human rights standards. In its report on the situation of the rights of persons deprived of liberty in Honduras, the IACHR established that the absence of adequate security measures, supervision and control inside the prisons are one of the main structural problems that must be addressed by the State..

States, as guarantors of the fundamental rights of persons deprived of liberty, have the inescapable duty to take concrete steps to protect inmates’ rights to life and physical integrity, particularly measures to guarantee the incarceration conditions in accordance with the international human rights law standards concerning the deprivation of liberty. Moreover, the Commission calls to mind that States have the obligation to investigate through its own due diligence the death of all persons who died while under its custody. These investigations must seek to identify not only the perpetrators but also the possible masterminds, as well as any authorities who by action or omission may be responsible.

The IACHR urges the Honduran State to implement measures that will have a real impact on the situation of risk faced by persons deprived of liberty. This includes bringing detention conditions in prisons into line with international standards and adopting immediate steps, as well as medium- and long-term plans, to guarantee the life and humane treatment of persons deprived of liberty

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 149/15