DonateNow
Stay tuned for something new!
In the coming months, MISF Media will launch a redesigned website. In the meantime, continue to check here for new editions of the "Honduras News in Review" and "Remembering 25 Years Ago" features.
Human Rights
in the Global Community
Overview
Global Bodies & Treaties
Current Issues
Human Rights–War on Terror News Update
Human Rights in Honduras
Overview
History
Current Issues
Honduras News in Review
Remembering 25 Years Ago
Search the Site:
Updated 04/23/2007

Honduras News in Review—April 23, 2007

1. Honduras apologizes for extrajudicial killing of four young men in 1995
2. Hondurans sent to Iraq as mercenaries are targets of attacks; U.N. group investigates training of mercenaries in Honduras
3. U.N. recommendation fuels debate on security and human rights in Honduras
4. OAS expresses concern over state of freedom of expression in the Americas
5. Military destroys Cold War weapons

6. U.S. delegation inspects Honduran
ports
7. Teachers demand benefits promised by government

1. Honduras apologizes for extrajudicial killing of four young men in 1995
In a ceremony with the victims’ families on April 19, Government and Justice Minister Jorge Arturo Reina apologized on behalf of the state of Honduras for the illegal detention, torture and murder of four young men in 1995. Marco Antonio Servellón García, Rony Alexis Betancourt, Diómedes Obed García and Orlando Alvarez Ríos were detained by police in Tegucigalpa and later found dead with their bodies showing signs of torture. The government’s apology was mandated by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which in September 2006 found the state of Honduras responsible for the crimes. Reina said the Zelaya administration would comply with the court’s sentence, which included identifying and punishing those responsible, compensating the victims’ families and naming a plaza after the victims. [EFE News, 4/20/07; Hondudiario, 4/19/07; past story: HNR, 10/31/06]

2. Hondurans sent to Iraq as mercenaries are targets of attacks; U.N. group investigates training of mercenaries in Honduras
One of several men who were hired in Honduras to serve as private security guards in Iraq but claimed they were instead trained and used as mercenaries reported on March 29 that he had suffered an attack on his life. Daniel Alvarado said he was walking near the airport in Tegucigalpa when men in an unmarked vehicle fired shots in his direction. Alvarado, who escaped physical harm, said he believes the military or the coordinator or former general manager of Your Solutions, the U.S.-based company that hired and trained him, is responsible for the attack. Another former Your Solutions employee, Mario Urquía, recently fled the country because his life was in danger. Alvarado and others returned to Honduras in 2005 after serving only a fraction of their contract with Your Solutions. Their claims of human rights and contract violations prompted the Human Rights Prosecutor to open an investigation, and in November 2006 the government fined the Honduran subsidiary of Your Solutions $25,000 for training more than 300 Hondurans and foreigners to work as mercenaries, in violation of labor laws. Former Your Solutions personnel have also alleged they were secretly trained at a Honduran Armed Forces installation, the Center for Military Training of the Army. The Human Rights Prosecutor is currently investigating those claims.

In related news, a representative of the U.N. Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries, which completed an investigation into the matter, said the Honduran government could have prevented Hondurans and others from being recruited and trained within its territory to work in an armed conflict area. However, he noted that Honduras had begun the process of acceding to the U.N. Convention Against the Use of Mercenaries.  [El Heraldo, 4/10/07; Honduras This Week, 4/16/07; background info: El Pais (El Salvador), 7/11/05; AP, 11/25/06]

3. U.N. recommendation fuels debate on security and human rights in Honduras
The U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention recommended that Honduras analyze and reduce the penalties against people arrested soley for being gang members. According to the country’s “anti-gang law” passed in 2005, gang members found guilty of “illicit association” are subject to 20- to 30-year sentences. There was vocal opposition to the recommendation by security personnel and legislators. Former Security Minister Oscar Álvarez Guerrero called the recommendation “absurd” and said Honduras would “return to the jungle.” He said the majority of gang members apprehended have committed violent crimes such as murder and rape. A spokesperson for the national police suggested the U.N. was not familiar with the security needs of the country. Congress President Roberto Micheletti said the anti-gang law would not be reformed, and Congressman Porfirio Lobo, who campaigned for president on a platform of seeking to reinstate the death penalty, said gang laws should be tougher, not weaker. Special Prosecutor for Human Rights Sandra Ponce agreed with the U.N.’s proposal, saying that if someone is convicted of a violent crime, he should receive a harsh penalty, but penalties for illicit association should be more reasonable. [EFE News, 4/12/07; El Heraldo, 4/12/07; El Heraldo, 4/12/07; Hondudiario, 4/13/07]

4. OAS expresses concern over state of freedom of expression in the Americas
The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Organization of American States released its 2006 annual report on the situation of freedom of expression in the Western Hemisphere. The special rapporteur expressed concern over the deterioration of freedom of expression, including incidents of assassinations, lawsuits against journalists and impunity. In the case of Honduras, the special rapporteur noted lawsuits, death threats and physical assaults against journalists, including journalists with the Association for a More Just Society. A lawyer for that association, Dionisio Diaz Garcia, was murdered in December 2006. The special rapporteur commended Honduras for passing the Law on Transparency and Access to Public Information in November 2006. [C-Libre press release, 4/10/07; Annual Report of the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression 2006]

5. Military destroys Cold War weapons
The Honduran Armed Forces announced it had destroyed an arsenal of weapons in storage since the Cold War era. According to officials, 714 landmines, 80 bombs, 990 grenades and 846 firearms were destroyed. A military spokesperson said the weapons were destroyed to eliminate risk and contribute to the balance between the militaries of Central America. [EFE News, 4/20/07]

6. U.S. delegation inspects Honduran ports
A delegation of nine U.S. Congressmen and Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Michael Jackson arrived in Honduras to inspect the country’s ports. The delegation is part of the Department of Homeland Security’s Container Security Initiative. International CSI ports must meet certain security standards. The initiative teaches customs officials how to screen containers that may be a terrorism risk before they are shipped to the United States. The group also met with President Manuel Zelaya but did not announce the topic of their discussions with him. [EFE News, 4/12/07; El Heraldo, 4/12/07; Department of Homeland Security, CSI Web page]

7. Teachers demand benefits promised by government
About 48,000 public school teachers in Honduras went on strike April 10 and April 16 to demand that the government pay the benefits promised to them during negotiations in August 2006. The government said it was waiting for a “social audit” to finalize before making the payments. The audit has found some irregularities including payments made for “ghost positions” and deceased teachers. Teachers demanded that the 40,000 teachers audited should be paid their benefits. The government conceded on April 15, but teachers took the day of the planned strike on April 16 to discuss the agreements with the government. Teachers in Honduras are paid an average monthly salary of $350. [La Prensa, 4/9/07; El Heraldo, 4/10/07; EFE News, 4/11/07; El Heraldo, 4/16/07]

SUBSCRIBE to the Honduras News in Review e-mail update.

Go to the HNR archive for past editions of the News in Review.