Human Rights Watch Urges Honduras to Investigate Attacks on Coup Opponents

March 6, 2010 By Andrew OReilly

A letter relased by Human Rights Watch Americas director this week called on the government of Honduran President Porfirio Lobo to investigate attacks on opponents of last June’s coup that ousted then-President Manuel Zelaya.

Human Rights Watch’s José Miguel Vivanco expressed concern for members of the National Popular Resistance Front (FNRP) who are targeted in crimes such as killings, rape, torture, kidnapping, and assault, according to the letter addressed to Honduras’ attorney general Luis Alberto Rubí.

“Without a thorough investigation to identify who committed the crimes, to establish motive, and to hold those responsible to account, these events could generate a chilling effect that would limit the exercise of basic political rights in Honduras, including the rights of freedom of association and freedom of expression,” Vivanco wrote.

The letter highlighted some of the attacks including the murder of Julio Benítez, a member of FNRP and the Union of Workers of the National Service of Aqueduct and Sewer Systems, who was shot outside his home on February 15 by men on a motorcycle and later died in the hospital of the wounds.

Besides members of FNRP, two journalists from the Honduran agencies Globo TV and Noticiero Mi Nacion were allegedly detained, taken to a house, tortured and interrogated by plain-clothes men who identified themselves with police badges. The journalists were then allegedly told that if the spoke out about the incident their families would be killed.

“We respectfully urge you to actively support the investigations into the crimes mentioned in this letter,” said Vivanco in his letter.

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[…] “We will strengthen our investigations aimed at clearing up these events, appointing a special squad that will produce the arrests of those responsible and the unrestricted application of justice,” Minister of Security Óscar Arturo Álvarez Guerrero said after a Human Rights Watch report was released last week. […]

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