Urgent Action: Defend Illegally Detained Campesinos

Rights Action - August 23, 2012
HONDURAS - Urgent Action

CALL THE U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT/ CANADIAN EMBASSY, AND
DEMAND THEY VERIFY THE CONDITION AND DEMAND THE RELEASE OF CAMPESINOS HELD ILLEGALLY IN HONDURAS

Today, human rights activists and lawyers report that the Honduran police intend to transfer the 27 protesters from the Aguan region in Honduras - detained and beaten yesterday - to the maximum security prison in Tamara, where they would be held without visitation rights.

This is not a pretrial detention center, and there are no charges against the detainees as they were liberated yesterday. The police are acting with extreme violence in a manner rarely seen since the June 2009 military coup, which leads human rights activists to believe that the behavior responds to superior orders.

The protestors were demanding an end to corruption in the justice system in front of the Supreme Court.

On August 20 campesinos from the Aguan peacefully protested corruption in the courts of Honduras when, according to witness, media reports and human rights organizations, State security forces circled the families and attacked them without warning and unprovoked. Six people were injured, though none hospitalized, and five children suffered strong reactions to the excessive use of tear gas, including a 9 month old baby.

The next day, August 21, the campesinos continued the protest, but again were attacked unprovoked. Two were beaten so severely that they were hospitalized and some under went immediate orthopedic surgery. Another 27 people were arrested, some with injuries. Slightly after midnight they were released without charges when police commissioner Bonilla arrived to what was in essence kidnap the just released prisoners. He took them to the Metropolitana 1 police station where they spent the night. Their lawyers and human rights observers were denied access to detainees, which include one of the campesinos' lawyers.

POLICE COMMISSIONER LINKED TO DEATH SQUADS
Earlier in August, the US State Department placed a hold on assistance to units that are under the command of the National Police Director Juan Carlos Bonilla, while they investigate charges he participated in a death squad, but State Department explains it will continue to channel funding to security squads not under his command and under direct US tutelage. Units that may fit this description include the special anti narcotics team that killed four bystanders in the Mosquitia in May and a new force that as a hybrid military-police force with an intelligence and population control focus currently being trained that responds directly to the Minister of Security.

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PLEASE CALL/ WRITE TO

Maria Otero, Undersecretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs: OteroM2@state.gov
Benjamin Gedan, Honduras Desk Officer: (202) 647-3482, GedanBN@state.gov
Nathan Anderson, Human Rights Officer in the US Embassy in Honduras: AndersonTN2@state.gov

CANADIAN Embassy in Costa Rica (responsible for Honduras)
Ambassador Cameron MacKay: Cameron.MacKay@international.gc.ca
Political Officer Léonard Beaulne: Leonard.Beaulne@international.gc.ca, (506) 2242-4400, (506) 2242-4411, sjcra@international.gc.ca
Honduras Office of the Canadian Embassy
Centro Financiero Banexpo, 3 Piso, Boulevard San Juan Bosco, Colonia Payaquí, Tegucigalpa, (504) 232-4551: tglpa@international.gc.ca