IACHR

Press Release

IACHR Repudiates the Killing of José Ángel Flores and Silmer Dionisio George in Honduras

November 3, 2016

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María Isabel Rivero
IACHR Press and Communication Office
Tel: +1 (202) 370-9001
mrivero@oas.org

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) repudiates the killing of José Ángel Flores and Silmer Dionisio George, President and member, respectively of the Unified Peasant Movement of the Aguán (Movimiento Unificado Campesino del Aguán - MUCA). Both were beneficiaries of precautionary measures granted by the IACHR on May 8, 2014, and had repeatedly and publicly denounced the situation of grave risk in which they were. The Commission calls on Honduras to adopt the measures necessary to guarantee the Rights to life, integrity and Security of all human Rights defenders in the country. Additionally, the IACHR urges the State to investigate these violent acts, to prosecute and punish those responsible.

According to information received by the IACHR, on Tuesday October 18, 2016 a group of masked and heavily armed persons riding motorcycles shot at José Ángel Flores in the peasant cooperative organization of La Confianza, Tocoa, causing his immediate death. The attack also resulted in serious wounds to Silmer Dionisio George, also a member of MUCA, who was transferred to San Isidro Hospital, where he died. The attack on both leaders took place after they left a meeting of the Associated Companies of the Settlement of La Confianza, where some 40 peasants were participating.

The IACHR takes note of the letter sent by the Permanent Mission of Honduras before the Organization of American States (OAS), which condemns the murder of both defenders, and indicates the steps taken to investigate these acts.

The IACHR considers it most serious that the State of Honduras failed to adopt the measures necessary to protect the life and integrity of these persons, given that they were beneficiaries of precautionary measures in place, as well as the widely known context of violence against peasant organizations in the Bajo Aguán. The Commission expresses its consternation and preoccupation given that after three working meetings in the IACHR, no adequate or effective measures are being implemented to protect the beneficiaries of precautionary measures. In effect, during the last working meeting that took place at IACHR Headquarters on October 21, 2015, the Inter-American Commission highlighted the serious deficiencies in the implementation of protection measures in favor of beneficiaries of precautionary measures.

The Inter-American Commission urges the State to adopt the measures necessary to guarantee the life and integrity of all human Rights defenders in Honduras.  These murders increase to ten the total human rights defenders killed in the country during this year. In light of the continued killing of human rights defenders, the Commission expresses its alarm and consternation before these acts of violence. “The Honduran State has the duty to investigate these lamentable murders in a serious, prompt, efficient manner, without delay, and to include the lines of investigation that analyze the hypothesis that the motive for the crime might have been the activity of human rights defenders,” said the Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Commissioner José de Jesús Orozco.

The IACHR urges the State to immediately adopt all measures necessary in order to guarantee the right to life, integrity and security of the other beneficiaries of these precautionary measures, as well as to strengthen the protection of human rights defenders in Honduras. As stated in its recent report on the situation of human rights in Honduras, the IACHR reiterates its recommendation to implement, as a priority, a global policy for the Protection of human Rights defenders and to adopt an effective and comprehensive prevention strategy with the goal of avoiding attacks against human rights defenders.

“The Honduran State must strengthen its efforts so that the National Protection Mechanism for Defenders is fully operational, providing the human and material Resources necessary for its proper functioning”, added Rapporteur Orozco.

The Commission reiterates that the acts of violence and other attacks against human rights defenders not only affect the guarantees afforded to all human beings, but also attempt against the fundamental role they play in society. Such acts also harm all other persons on whose behalf they work, leaving them in a state of Greater vulnerability, even rendering them defenseless. The Commission must also recall that the work of defenders is essential for the construction of a solid democratic society, and for the consolidation of the rule of law. 

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. 161/16