Honduras: Rule of law in 'grave jeopardy'

Amnesty condemns police beatings and mass arrests

Amnesty International has denounced the sharp rise in police beatings, mass arrests of demonstrators and intimidation of human rights defenders in Honduras since the June coup d’état. The organisation warned that fundamental rights and the rule of law in the Central American nation are in grave jeopardy.

According to reports approximately 15 police officers fired tear gas canisters at the building of the prominent human rights organisation COFADEH on Tuesday 22 September. Around 100 people, including Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and Children's rights, were inside the office at the time. Many were there to denounce police abuses during the break up of a demonstration earlier outside the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa, where ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya has taken refuge.

Amnesty International Americas Programme Director, Susan Lee said:

“The situation in Honduras can only be described as alarming.

“The attacks against human rights defenders, suspension of news outlets, beating of demonstrators by the police and ever increasing reports of mass arrests indicate that human rights and the rule of law in Honduras are at grave risk.

“The only way forward is for the de facto authorities to stop the policy of repression and violence and instead respect the rights of freedom of expression and association. We also urge the international community to urgently seek a solution, before Honduras sinks even deeper into a human rights crisis.”

Following the police dispersal of a mass demonstration outside the Brazilian Embassy numerous demonstrators were reported to have been beaten by police and some several hundred detained across the city. Reports also indicated similar scenes of human rights violations across the country.

Amnesty International received information that dozens of protestors were taken to unauthorised detention sites across the capital on Tuesday evening. Most have since been released but arbitrary arrests make those detained vulnerable to human rights abuses such as ill-treatment, torture or enforced disappearance.

Background Information
· Concerns about human rights in Honduras have intensified since the democratically elected President José Manuel Zelaya Rosales was forced from power on 28 June and expelled from the country by a military-backed group of politicians led by Roberto Micheletti, former leader of the National Congress.

· There has been widespread unrest in the country since the coup d’etat with frequent clashes between the police, military and civilian protestors. At least two people have died after being shot during protests.

· Amnesty International has documented the limits which have been imposed on freedom of expression since the coup d’état, including the closure of media outlets, the confiscation of equipment and physical abuse of media professionals covering events. Radio Globo and TV channel 36 yesterday suffered power stoppages or constant interruptions to their transmissions which prevented them from broadcasting.

· On 19 August Amnesty International published a report documenting testimonies and evidence of excessive use of force by police. The report included evidence of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and girls being subjected to gender-based violence.

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