'Keep pressure on Honduras' call to EU

28 October 2009 - 1:01pm
Press release

Military regime human rights abuse condemned

The European Union, including Britain, must continue its squeeze on the military regime in Honduras amid growing claims of human rights abuse, a new coalition of campaign groups warns today in a public statement on the country's crisis.

The alliance calls for the EU to continue its suspension of bilateral development cooperation with Honduras and the freezing of trade negotiations on the Association Agreement with Central America. It also says the UK government should reject moves by the military regime to hold presidential elections until democracy is first restored.

The statement is issued by Central America Women's Network, War on Want, Encuentros Latinoamericanos, Environmental Network for Central America, Gender Action for Peace and Security UK, Labour behind the Label, Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign, People and Planet, One World Action, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and Women's Self Education Fund. It comes four months to the day since the Honduran army seized president Manuel Zelaya and installed his successor, Robert Micheletti.

The groups call on the international community and the public to back mediation efforts for the restoration of democracy, Zelaya's return as democratically-elected president, the rule of law and the protection and defence of human rights. They also demand the immediate end of human rights violations carried out by the de facto government. The coalition has recorded severe and systematic human rights abuse and curbs on civil liberties. According to the organisations, several institutions, including civil society representatives and UN special rapporteurs, have confirmed these reports after visits to Honduras.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights documented "the use of repression against demonstrations through the placement of military roadblocks; the arbitrary enforcement of curfews; the detentions of thousands of people; cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment; and poor detention conditions".

Last month the Honduran government issued a decree suspending certain rights enshrined in the constitution. Though the decree was soon lifted, its removal awaits official publication, leaving the decree still in effect. The statement claims the decree violates freedom of association and movement, as well as peaceful demonstrations. These rights should be protected and are guaranteed by the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Organisation of American States Charter and the American Convention of Human Rights, all of which have been ratified by the Republic of Honduras.

The groups say that in a bid to control information the Honduran government has banned Cholusat Sur TV, Radio Globo and radio programmes from three women's groups - Centro de Derechos de Mujeres, Centro de Estudios de la Mujer-Honduras and Movimiento de Mujeres por la Paz Visitación Padilla.

Katherine Ronderos, women's rights programme officer at CAWN, said: "Having reached the fourth month of the military coup in Honduras, human rights violations cannot continue to go unnoticed. People's daily struggles need to be taken seriously and it is our responsibility, in solidarity with Honduras people, to contribute towards a solution to this crisis. For this reason, our groups are working together to make sure that the voices of Honduran men and women are heard."

Ruth Tanner, campaigns and policy director at War on Want, said: "Our charity denounces the coup and calls on Britain, the EU and the wider international community to increase pressure on the Honduran government to restore democracy and civil liberties. We have long supported our partner in Honduras and their fight for workers' rights and human rights."

CONTACTS
Paul Collins, War on Want media officer (+44) (0)20 7549 0584 or (+44) (0)7983 550728
Katherine Ronderos, CAWN women's rights programme officer (+44) (0)20 7833 4174

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