Press Release

IACHR Deplores Killing of Nelson Noé García in Honduras

March 21, 2016

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the killing of Nelson Noé García, leader and member of the Civic Council of Popular Organizations and Indigenous People of Honduras (COPINH, by its acronym in Spanish), and beneficiary of a precautionary measure granted by the IACHR on March 6th, 2016. The Commission laments this death, which occurred twelve days after the killing of his colleague Berta Cáceres, a recognized leader and human rights defender.

According to information received by the IACHR, on March 15th, 2016 Nelson Noé García accompanied and assisted residents of the community in Río Chiquito, Department of Cortés, where State security forces conducted an eviction in which, according to information provided by civil society organizations, there was allegedly abusive use of force. The information received indicates that when returning to his home, unknown persons shot him with firearms, causing his death.

The Inter-American Commission expresses deep repudiation for this killing and special concern for the fact that Nelson Noé García had precautionary measures granted in his favor. The IACHR urges the Honduran State to investigate the killing of Nelson Noé García and Berta Cáceres with due diligence, and to prosecute and punish the material and intellectual perpetrators.

“The State must include lines of investigation and  analyze, as a hypothesis, that the crime had as its motive the victim’s activity as a human right defender, “ indicated the IACHR Rapporteur for Honduras, Commissioner Francisco Eguiguren. “These crimes must not remain unpunished.”

In the past few years, the members of COPINH have been victims of many acts of aggression, criminalization, threats and intimidations. The IACHR has followed the situation by requesting information from the State of Honduras, under Article 41 of the American Convention on Human Rights, and has also granted precautionary measures to protect the life and integrity of the defenders.

Likewise, the IACHR analyzed the serious situation of human rights defenders in its Country Report published on February 18th, 2016, Report on the Human Rights Situation in Honduras, which includes the Commission’s observations from its on-site visit in December 2014. In this report, the IACHR registered four killings of COPINH’s members between July 2013 and May 2015. The report has also noted that human rights defenders in Honduras are targets of attacks by those persons who have either been pointed out as being responsible for human rights violations or from sectors and groups with interests that oppose their causes.

“The State must adopt urgent measures of protection for all members of COPINH, implement immediately and effectively the precautionary measures issued by the Inter-American Commission, and reinforce protection for all human rights defenders in Honduras,” said the Rapporteur on the Rights of Human Rights Defenders, Commissioner José de Jesús Orozco Henríquez. “Honduras should implement as a priority a global policy of protection and adopt a effective and exhaustive strategy of prevention, in order to prevent these attacks from continuing”, he added.

Acts of violence and other attacks against human rights defenders not only affect the basic guarantees owed to every human being, but also undermine the fundamental role that human rights defenders play in society. These types of acts also harm all of the individuals they are defending, leaving them in a situation of increased vulnerability and at times of absolute defenselessness. The Commission recalls in this regard that the work of human rights defenders is critical to building a solid, lasting democratic society, and to fully achieving 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. 039/16