Press Release

In View of Ongoing Post-Electoral Tensions, IACHR Welcomes Creation of a Human Rights Secretariat in Honduras

January 22, 2018

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Washington, D.C.—In view of the ongoing tensions in the post-electoral context in Honduras and their impact on human rights, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) welcomes the creation of a Human Rights Secretariat as an entity that is separate from the current Secretariat for Human Rights, Justice, Governance, and Decentralization of the government of the Republic of Honduras. The new agency begins operations on January 27, 2018.

The Commission notes the importance of this decision to restore the rank of Secretariat to the agency, which had been reduced to a Sub-Secretariat in 2014. In the post-electoral context in Honduras, the creation of a Human Rights Secretariat is particularly important given the human rights situation the country has experienced since the elections, a situation the IACHR has been following. On December 3, 2017,  in a joint press release, the IACHR and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Honduras (OHCHR) expressed their “deep concern over the serious acts of violence that have taken place in the post-electoral context in Honduras” and urged 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.”

On December 22, 2017, the IACHR urged the Honduran State to launch investigations into the acts of violence that had occurred between November 30 and December 20, and to take urgent steps to ensure that such acts are not repeated and to fully protect the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. At that time, the Commission expressed its willingness to have an IACHR delegation visit Honduras as soon as possible to verify the human rights situation that had been reported.

On January 19, the IACHR and the OHCHR expressed their concern over acts of threats and harassment against human rights defenders, activists, journalists, and media outlets in the country. Both organizations called on the State of Honduras to prevent such incidents and attacks, including by adopting a public discourse that recognizes the importance of the work of human rights defenders and journalists and by carrying out prompt, effective, and impartial investigations that enable those responsible to be identified and punished, as effective measures to ensure that such incidents do not happen again.

The Honduran government’s announcement stressed that the priorities of the new Secretariat will include “continuing its open-door policy toward all human rights organizations and monitoring mechanisms, both in the universal and the inter-American human rights systems.” Along those lines, the IACHR reiterates its call to the government of the Republic of Honduras to investigate the incidents of violence in the post-electoral period with due diligence and to ensure that those alleged to be responsible for human rights violations are brought to justice.

“The creation of a higher-level agency within the government of the Republic of Honduras that focuses exclusively on human rights should lead to greater cooperation among the relevant State entities but at the same time serve to better engage with the inter-American human rights system,” IACHR Commissioner Joel Hernández said. “We hope that this agency will have sufficient human and financial resources to carry out its mandate effectively.”

The IACHR expresses its willingness to continue cooperating with the Honduran authorities to address human rights challenges and notes that the visit it will carry out to Honduras in July of this year will provide the opportunity to review the human rights situation with all the competent authorities.

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 and to defend 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. 008/18