Press Release

IACHR refers case on Honduras to the Inter-American Court

October 1, 2020

   Related links

   Contact info

IACHR Press Office
[email protected]

   More on the IACHR
A+ A-

Washington, D.C. - On August 20, 2020, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) referred the case of Herminio Deras García and family, regarding Honduras, before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. The case refers to the international responsibility of the State for the extrajudicial execution of Herminio Deras García, a teacher, leader of the Communist Party of Honduras and advisor to several trade unions on the northern coast of Honduras, as well as the threats, illegal detentions and acts of torture against his family members. These events took place in a context of serious human rights violations in Honduras during the 1980s.

Between 1977 and 1982, Mr. Deras and several of his family members were subjected to acts of search and seizure, detentions, beatings, and threats committed in many cases by public agents. This was due to the participation of Mr. Deras and his family in political activities and trade union organizations. Despite having denounced these acts, no investigation was carried out. In the early morning of January 29, 1983, Herminio Deras was detained by members of Battalion 3-16 during a traffic inspection and later executed in his vehicle. On July 30, 1998, the Public Prosecutor's Office filed a complaint against the members of Battalion 3-16 for the death of Mr. Deras. On May 23, 2005, military agent Marco Tulio Regalado was sentenced in the second instance to twelve years in prison for the crime of murder, and on February 27, 2009, the Execution Court issued an arrest warrant. The IACHR does not have information regarding the capture of Mr. Tulio Regalado.

In its Report on the Merits, the Commission determined that what happened in this case constituted an extrajudicial execution, in violation of the right to life of Herminio Deras García. The Commission further observed that this execution took place within the framework of the "national security doctrine," which implied the adoption of a practice of grave human rights violations, and that the status of Mr. Deras' union leader and political leader of the Communist Party was limited to the type of profile considered to be the objective of the government of the time. The Commission also considered that the extrajudicial execution of Mr. Deras, having been committed with a clear motive of retaliation for his activities as a political and trade union leader, also violated his rights to freedom of expression and association.

On the other hand, the Commission observed, based on information that was not disputed by the State, that military agents raided the homes of i) Herminio Deras; ii) Mr. Deras' parents; and iii) two homes of his relatives in the city of El Progreso without a warrant.  Likewise, military agents detained i) Irma Isabel Deras after her home had been raided; ii) Otilia Flores and Elba Flores after their home had been raided; iii) Luis Rolando Deras; and iv) several of Mr. Deras' relatives in June 1984. The IACHR noted that the detentions were carried out without a court order and without the existence of a situation of flagrante delicto being affirmed. On the contrary, the Commission notes that these arrests were made after an arbitrary search of several homes of Mr. Deras' relatives. Likewise, in the context of these events, the Commission observed that some of Mr. Deras' relatives were children. Moreover, according to the information provided by the petitioner and not distorted by the State, in the context of the above-mentioned events, several of the relatives were subjected to beatings and mistreatment by military agents. In view of the foregoing, the Commission concluded that the State of Honduras violated the rights to personal integrity, personal liberty, privacy, and the rights of the child, to the detriment of Mr. Deras' family members.

The Commission concluded that the departure of Mr. Deras' brother from the country and the impossibility of his sister to return to Honduras were due to the lack of investigation and the absence of effective protection measures regarding the acts of violence, threats and harassment against the family. Based on this, it considered that the State is responsible for the violation of the right to movement and residence, to the detriment of Héctor and Alba Luz Deras.

Finally, the Commission concluded that the criminal proceeding was not carried out with due diligence or within a reasonable time, and that the criminal responsibility of Agent Marco Tulio Regalado was established in the context of a proceeding with various omissions and irregularities, without the victim's family having had a full explanation of the facts or the determination of all of the responsibilities. For this reason, the Commission considered that to date a situation of impunity persists, and that the State has violated the rights to judicial guarantees and protection, as well as the right to personal integrity, to the detriment of Mr. Deras' family.

In its Report on the Merits, the Commission recommended that the State:

  1. To make full reparation for the human rights violations declared in the Report on the Merits, including fair compensation for material and immaterial damages, as well as measures of satisfaction duly agreed upon with the relatives.
  2. To provide the necessary physical and mental health care for the family members of Herminio Deras García. These measures should be implemented if the victims so wish and in agreement with them and their representatives.
  3. To carry out a complete and effective investigation of the human rights violations declared in the Report on the Merits. This should imply (i) that all necessary efforts be made to achieve the capture of Marco Tulio Regalado in order for him to serve the sentence imposed; and (ii) that all other responsibilities be investigated in the ordinary criminal justice system.

The IACHR is a principal and autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), whose mandate derives from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote the observance and defense of human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The IACHR is composed of seven independent members who are elected by the OAS General Assembly in their personal capacity, and do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 241/20