Honduras | Reprisals and intimidation against human rights defenders must end

26.08.2016

Human rights defender detained in Honduras after meeting with UN expert

(Leya este artículo en español aquí)

Human rights defender in Honduras Karen Mejía and her colleague Gabriela Díaz were detained last night following a meeting with an independent expert of the UN, prompting the International Service for Human Rights to reiterate its calls for an end of harassment of those working to promote and defend human rights in the country.

The ISHR’s advocacy support manager, Helen Nolan, said that while the details remain unclear, this detention is another example of human rights defenders around the world being punished for their work.

'In Honduras human rights defenders face unacceptable criminalisation and stigmatisation. The detention of Karen is a sharp reminder that governments needs to take meaningful steps to protect human rights defenders, and ensure that they are able to engage with UN human rights mechanisms free from harassment,’ said Nolan.

Mejía, who works on women's rights issues, and Gabriela Díaz had met with the UN’s expert on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst, to discuss the dangers and restrictions faced by defenders in Central America. Following the meeting, Mejía and one of her colleagues were seized by an estimated 20 police officers. The officers threatened to shoot the human rights defenders if they got out of the police car. They were then questioned for 3 hours at a police station before being released. They were not permitted to speak with their lawyers, and two other defenders, Edy Tabora and Sandra Maribel Sánchez, were not allowed to visit them where they were being held.

'In Honduras, when we speak up about the risks that we face as defenders, this is what we can expect - greater intimidation and harassment from the authorities,’ said Mejía.

Mejía said the most concerning thing was that the Secretary of Security and National Police released a statement that same night attempting to justify the detentions with ludicrous claims.

'Once we said we were human rights defenders, the harassment increased,' said Mejía.

Mejía was recently in Geneva to participate in ISHR's intensive advocacy training programme on how to engage with the UN’s human rights systems.

For further details or comments, please contact Red Nacional de Defensoras de Derechos Humano in Honduras, reddefensorashn@gmail.com, or Tom Clarke at ISHR in Switzerland on +41 797 590 448