Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2006 - Honduras

Release of Mr. Feliciano Pineda175

In February 2006, Mr. Feliciano Pineda, an indigenous leader of the Vertientes community in Montaña Verde, and a member of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organisations of Honduras (Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras – COPINH), was released on parole after eight months in prison.

On June 5, 2005, Mr. Pineda had been attacked by paramilitaries. Shortly after he was taken to hospital, Mr. Feliciano Pineda was arrested by the police and charged with assassination.

As of the end of 2006, no information was available regarding possible pending charges against him.

Assassination of Messrs. Heraldo Zuñiga and Roger Ivan Cartagena and threats against MAO members176

On May 29, 2006, Father Andrés Tamayo, a member of the Environmental Movement of Olancho (Movimiento Ambientalista de Olancho – MAO), and members of his community were seriously threatened by the forestry developers of the Samalá commune, who gave them 48 hours to leave the town.

These threats followed statements made on May 19, 2006 by the President of the Republic, Mr. Manuel Zelaya, who demanded the immediate interruption of forest working in several municipalities of the department of Olancho, giving the forestry developers one week to dismantle their infrastructures and withdraw their teams.

On May 31, 2006, MAO and the Centre for Justice and International Law (Centro por la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional – CEJIL) appealed to the IACHR to provide urgent precautionary measures to ensure the physical integrity of Father Andrés Tamayo and Messrs. Víctor Manuel Ochoa, René Wilfredo Gradis, Elvin Noé Lanza, Macario Zelaya, Pedro Amado Acosta, Heraldo Zúñiga and Santos Efraín Paguada, all MAO members.

On December 20, 2006, Messrs. Heraldo Zuñiga and Roger Ivan Cartagena, also a MAO member, were murdered, in Guarisama, after their vehicle had been stopped by police officers. The day before, Mr. Zuñiga had received death threats from employees of the Sazone forestry company.

Before he died, Mr. Zuñiga accused police Sergeant Juan Lanza of having been paid by forestry developers of the region to kill them.

On December 22, 2006, the IACHR granted precautionary protective measures to MAO members.

As of the end of 2006, no investigation had been opened into the two men's death and the State of Honduras had failed to implement the measures granted by the IACHR.

Assassination of Mr. Dionisio Díaz García and death threats against ASJ members177

On September 19, 2006, Mr. Selvin Richard Swasey, owner of the private security company Delta Security and its subsidiary, Technical Security of Honduras (Seguridad Técnica de Honduras – SETECH), went to the offices of the Association for a More Equitable Society (Asociación para una Sociedad más Justa – ASJ), in Tegucigalpa, accompanied by SETECH employees, in order to "negotiate" the withdrawal of the proceedings instigated before the Tegucigalpa Court of Labour Disputes following the unfair dismissal, in August 2006, of twelve security guards legally assisted by ASJ.

While Mr. Swasey was talking with Ms. Dina Meetabel Meza Elvir, a journalist and ASJ project coordinator, the SETECH employees photographed the premises and the organisation's staff members.

Mr. Swasey then threatened to call for the closure of ASJ, while one of his employees threatened Ms. Meza Elvir of lodging a defamation complaint against ASJ.

On September 28, 2006, SETECH published an article in the online daily newspaper hondudiario.com, accusing ASJ of not declaring its employees to the social security authorities. The publication was illustrated with photographs of Ms. Dina Meetabel Meza Elvir, Ms. Rosa Marazán and Mr. Robert Marín, ASJ members, taken on September 19, 2006.

Moreover, since August 29, 2006, several vehicles with tinted windows have regularly followed ASJ staff members, in particular Ms. Meza Elvir and Mr. Dionisio Díaz García, legal adviser of the twelve SETECH guards who had been dismissed.

On December 4, 2006, Mr. Díaz García was murdered by two armed individuals on motorbikes, in Tegucigalpa. On November 29, 2006, he had supported security guards of the Inter-com company during a demonstration in front of the company's offices. The next day, he had accompanied a labour inspector to the SETECH offices, in the neighbourhood of Las Colinas, in order to record the unfair dismissal of an employee. He had been filmed by men called upon by the company at the time.

As of the end of 2006, ASJ members continued to receive threats on their mobile phone.

[Refworld note: This report as posted on the FIDH website (www.fidh.org) was in pdf format with country chapters run together by region. Footnote numbers have been retained here, so do not necessarily begin at 1.]

175. See Annual Report 2005.

176. See Urgent Appeal HND 001/0606/OBS 068.

177. See Urgent Appeal, HND 002/1006/OBS 116 and 116.1.


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