Press Release

IACHR and OHCHR Express Concern over Post-Election Violence in Honduras

December 3, 2017

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María Isabel Rivero
IACHR Press and Communication Office
Tel: +1 (202) 370-9000

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Tegucigalpa / Washington D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Honduras (OHCHR-Honduras) express their deep concern over the serious acts of violence that have taken place in the post-electoral context in Honduras. They urge the State to comply with its international obligations to respect and protect human rights in this situation, particularly the full exercise of demonstrators’ rights to life, integrity, and personal liberty, and the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and political participation.

The IACHR and OHCHR-Honduras condemn the looting and damage to private property that have occurred in the last few days in Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, and other cities, as this conduct is incompatible with the right to peaceful protest.

At the same time, and mindful of the State’s responsibility to guarantee security and public order, the IACHR and OHCHR-Honduras ask the State of Honduras to keep its actions within the framework of human rights, with respect for people’s lives and physical integrity. In this regard, the two organizations express their deep concern over the loss of human lives in the context of the protests. According to preliminary information received, there have been 11 fatalities and at least 15 injuries. OHCHR-Honduras is taking steps to verify the alleged involvement of law enforcement military police in such acts.

Regarding Decree 084/2017, which refers to the suspension of guarantees, the IACHR and OHCHR-Honduras would like to stress that according to established international human rights standards, measures adopted in the context of the suspension of guarantees must be strictly necessary to the demands of the situation, justified, and instituted for the shortest time possible. In this regard, the IACHR and OHCHR-Honduras urge that this decree not hinder the exercise of the right to peaceful assembly, which is an instrument of participation whose restriction would weaken the foundations of a democratic State, particularly in the context of an electoral process.

The IACHR and OHCHR-Honduras also note that States should refrain from engaging in practices of mass, collective, or indiscriminate arrests. They underscore the importance of complying with all the requirements imposed by domestic laws and international standards in terms of arrests made by security forces in situations of social protest, particularly to ensure that those arrested are treated humanely and with the respect inherent to human dignity, and that their families receive exact information about the reasons for the arrest and the place where they are being detained. In this regard, the IACHR and OHCHR-Honduras reiterate the principle that civilians should not be detained in military installations, and that if they are, as authorized under Decree 084/2017, they should enjoy all the rights to which they are entitled, including access to defense counsel, something that does not appear to be guaranteed at this time.

In conclusion, both institutions call for rejecting any type of violence and promoting dialogue and real political participation to seek a solution that respects human rights. The IACHR and OHCHR-Honduras offer their services to work with the State of Honduras within the framework of their mandates and functions.

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 the respect for and defense of 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.

About OHCHR-Honduras

On May 4, 2015, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the government of the Republic of Honduras signed an agreement to establish an Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in the country. With the aim of improving the enjoyment of human rights, the office independently monitors the human rights situation in Honduras, advises State institutions and civil society organizations, and disseminates information about human rights.

No. 197/17