Washington, DC, September 22, 2009 – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) strongly condemns the excessive use of force in the repression of protests that have taken place in Tegucigalpa, near the Embassy of Brazil, the current location of President Manuel Zelaya Rosales.
According to the information received, after President Zelaya returned to Honduras on September 21, 2009, the de facto government imposed a curfew which is still in place and ordered the airports to be closed. In this context, police and military forces repressed the protests in the vicinity of the Embassy with excessive use of force, using tear gas and rubber bullets. Moreover, information was received indicating that hundreds of individuals had been detained and that State agents threw tear gas canisters into the headquarters of the Committee of Relatives of Detained-Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH), at the time that the organization was attending to complaints and witness statements by individuals injured during the repression. The IACHR was also informed that the Embassy of Brazil in Honduras is surrounded by State security forces and cut off from all external communication following the application of a power outage in the area. Other power outages interrupted the broadcasts of radio Globo and TV Channel 36.
The IACHR calls on the de facto regime to urgently adopt all appropriate measures to guarantee the rights to life, integrity and security of all persons. In particular, the Commission urges the de facto authorities to respect the right to life and integrity of the individuals who have been detained, as well as of President Manuel Zelaya Rosales, the members of his family and his cabinet who have taken refuge in the Embassy, the Brazilian diplomatic staff, and all persons who are currently in the Embassy.
The Inter-American Commission urges the de facto authorities to investigate the excessive use of force used to repress the demonstrations in support of President Manuel Zelaya and to punish those responsible for the human rights violations that are determined to have taken place following the appropriate investigations. Moreover, the IACHR reiterates its call on the de facto government of Honduras to respect public demonstrations and reiterates that all individuals without distinction must be equally protected in the exercise of their rights of freedom of expression, assembly and political participation. In this sense, the Inter-American Commission once again expresses its deep concern over the repeated use of various states of emergency in Honduras, in this case a curfew, to suspend fundamental rights and to prevent public protests.
In particular, the Commission expresses its deep concern over the restrictions to freedom of expression through indirect means such as power outages that, in practice, lead to the interruption of the broadcasting of certain media outlets. The IACHR and the Special Rapporteurship for Freedom of Expression demand absolute respect of the right to freedom of expression, and call on the de facto authorities to ensure all guarantees so that journalists and media outlets may freely and securely perform their work of informing the public.
A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has the mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who act in a personal capacity, without representing a particular country, and who are elected by the OAS General Assembly.
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