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Updated 09/13/2006

Honduras News in Review—September 18, 2006

1. Inter-American Court to hear torture case against Honduras

2. Over 1,200 arrested in joint police-military operation

3. Government investigation shows mine contamination

4. Human Rights leaders condemn proposed U.S. immigration policy

5. At least 80,000 Hondurans emigrate every year

6. New office will mediate labor disputes

7. Nurses return to work after successfully negotiating salary raise

1. Inter-American Court to hear torture case against Honduras

During its September session, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights will hear a case against Honduras involving the illegal detention, torture and extrajudicial execution of four people, two of whom were minors. The murders took place in September 1995, when police began arbitrarily detaining youths in Tegucigalpa prior to an Independence Day celebration. The four victims, Marco Antonio Servellón García (16), Rony Alexis Betancourt Vásquez (17), Diomedes Obed García (18) and Orlando Alvarez Ríos (32), were illegally detained and murdered with the same gun and in the same manner. [Hondudiario, 09/06/06; Inter-American Commission case summary]

2. Over 1,200 arrested in joint police-military operation

More than 1,200 people were detained in the first five days of “Operation Thunder,” a joint police and military operation that is part of a government plan to stem the wave of violence in Honduras. Officials have seized 62 firearms, 131 other weapons and 131 vehicles since the operation began on Aug. 31. Police and military are focusing on high-conflict areas in major cities including marketplaces, stadiums and neighborhoods that are considered dangerous. Operation Thunder is part of President Manuel Zelaya’s 11-point plan to curb violence and will continue for an indefinite period of time. [Hondudiario, 9/4/06; EFE News, 9/5/06]

3. Government investigation shows mine contamination

The Ministry of Natural Resources in Honduras (Serna) has announced that its investigations show dangerous quantities of cyanide in the Valle de Siria area surrounding the Entremares mine. Serna determined that the expansion of mineral extraction stripped the area of a protective layer of clay, causing cyanide and other chemicals to leak into the groundwater of the surrounding areas. Executives of Entremares, a subsidiary of U.S.-Canadian transnational Glamis Gold Inc., have been instructed to cease the contamination. Serna may take administrative action against Entremares, but this would not interfere with any legal actions taken by the special prosecutor for the environment. [El Heraldo, 9/6/06]

4. Human Rights leaders condemn proposed U.S. immigration policy

The Central American Council of Human Rights Lawyers issued a resolution on Sept. 4 condemning proposals in the U.S. Congress that would criminalize immigration. The resolution declared the construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border “morally unacceptable,” and expressed concern about human rights violations perpetrated against undocumented immigrants as they travel to the United States. It also accused the governments of the region of “making free trade a more important freedom than the movement of people, where doors are open to merchandise and products while closed to opportunities for people.” The group called on Central American countries to sufficiently fund consular services to ensure the rights of those detained in the United States and encouraged them to create an observatory body to monitor the situation, among other things. Among the signatories was Ramon Custodio, the Honduran national human rights commissioner. [Hondudiario, 9/4/06]

5. At least 80,000 Hondurans emigrate every year

At least 80,000 Hondurans leave the country every year, according to a new study published by the National Migration Forum of Honduras . Of those 80,000, only about five percent make it to the United States, the destination for most Honduran emigrants. Deportations of Hondurans have increased fourfold since 1997; last year, 18,941 Hondurans were deported. The National Migration Forum said the trend is worrisome, considering that those who emigrate are of optimal working age. [EFE News, 9/6/06; El Heraldo, 9/6/06]

6. New office will mediate labor disputes

The Inter-American Development Bank provided a $1 million grant to Honduras to create an Office of Mediation within the Labor Ministry. The new office will strengthen management and technical capacity within the ministry and will mediate labor conflicts. According to Labor Minister Rixi Moncada, employers and workers will no longer have to take their problems to court, which often take up to three years to issue a verdict. The new office will focus on mediation and arbitration as alternative means for resolving disputes. [Hondudiario, 9/5/06]

7. Nurses return to work after successfully negotiating salary raise

Nurses in Honduras have returned to work after nearly two weeks on strike. In the end, government negotiators met the nurses’ demand for a 16,000 lempira ($846) salary raise over four years. In addition, the government will create 153 new posts for auxiliary nurses. Hundreds of nurses participated in the strike, causing a crisis in state hospitals. [El Heraldo, 9/4/06]


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