Press Release

IACHR Takes Case Involving Honduras to Inter-American Court

November 17, 2011

Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) filed an application with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Case No. 12.472, Carlos Antonio Luna López, Honduras.

The case has to do with the assassination of Carlos Antonio Luna López, environmentalist and alderman (regidor), and with the lack of investigation, prosecution and conviction against those responsible. Carlos Luna López, elected in 1998 as alderman of the town of Catacamas, Department of Olancho, made public acts of corruption in the Municipal Corporation regarding logging permits and alleged illegal logging. In this context, Luna López publicly and repeatedly expressed that he had received threats from different sectors, including some from public officials, and filed a complaint before the Office of the Attorney General. He was killed on May 18, 1998, and the competent authorities did not adopt the immediate actions necessary to protect the crime scene, nor did they conduct an adequate autopsy. Subsequently, a process was opened against the material authors and some of the intellectual authors. One of the material authors was processed, and was killed in a high security prison after having expressed fear for his life on account of having identified some of the intellectual authors. Moreover, several witnesses were threatened and harassed during the criminal process and several judges excused themselves from the process. The State did not open any investigations related to the alleged participation of State agents.

The case was sent to the Inter-American Court on November 10, 2011, because the Commission deemed that the State had not complied with the recommendations contained in its Report on the Merits of the case. In that report, the IACHR concluded that Honduras is responsible for the violation of the rights to life and political participation of Luna López, and with the violation of the rights to personal integrity, judicial guarantees and judicial protection of his family members. The IACHR recommended the State to adequately remedy the violations and to expeditiously conduct a complete, impartial and effective judicial investigation to establish the circumstances of the assassination, identify all persons who participated in it in the different levels of decision and execution, and to impose the appropriate sanctions. In addition, the IACHR recommended adopting the adequate administrative, disciplinary or criminal measures in response to the actions or omissions of public officials who contributed to the denial of justice and impunity in which this case remains. Furthermore, the IACHR recommended the State to adopt legislative, institutional and judicial measures aiming to reduce the exposition to risk of human rights defenders in a situation of vulnerability.

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 matter. 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. 121/11