Below is an update and action issued by Amnesty International in Canada for the community of Rigores in Agua (see earlier posts for more information). For readers in the U.S. we ask that you also contact your congressional representatives and protest the ongoing violent violation of human rights against the poor campesino communities in Honduras and ask that U.S. aid be cut off to Honduras because it is being used to committ violence against the people. In May of this year 87 members of Congress signed a letter calling for the cut off of military and police aid if human rights violations continue.
From Amnesty International - Canada
Police have forcibly evicted 114 families, including young children, from a community in northern Honduras. Around 80 people are now living in a nearby community centre in unsanitary conditions that pose a risk to their health.
Police forcibly evicted a community in the town of Rigores, in Colon department, on 24 June. An eviction order had been issued by a local judge. The community has lived on the land for many years, but a local landowner claims that he is the rightful owner of the land, and wants the community evicted. Local people say the police arrived with tractors and destroyed houses belonging to community members, as well as seven classrooms that form part of the local school and kindergarten and two churches. Some 493 people were made homeless.
The eviction order was issued on 23 May, but the community was not informed. The police arrived in Rigores at 10am on 24 June and told community members that they had two hours to pack up and leave. At around 2pm, the police began to destroy communal buildings, people's homes and their belongings. Nobody was offered alternative housing, resettlement or access to productive land, or compensation, either in advance of or since the eviction. Nor was anyone guaranteed safe access to tend their crops, many of which were destroyed during the eviction.
Around 80 people, mainly women and children, have taken shelter in the Rigores Community Centre, about 3 km away. The centre is not designed for people to live in. The building is overcrowded, and lets in rainwater, leaving half the building constantly wet. The centre has very few toilets and washing facilities. The community members, particularly young children, are at risk of disease. The community depends on the land from which they were evicted in Rigores for their survival. Honduras is a party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), which obliges it to ensure that evictions do "not result in individuals being rendered homeless or vulnerable to the violation of other human rights."
PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY.
* Urge the authorities to do everything necessary to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of the families whose homes and crops were destroyed and who were evicted from their land in Rigores on 24 June.
* Urge them to uphold these people's right to adequate housing, and provide them with suitable and safe accommodation until the land dispute is resolved, as well as food, water, access to medical attention and education.
* Demand that no further evictions take place without due process, adequate notice and consultation, and without the provision of adequate compensation.
* Urge the authorities to investigate fully the actions of those who carried out and ordered the forced eviction on 24 June, publish the results and bring those responsible to justice.
DIRECT YOUR APPEALS TO
Director of the National Agrarian Institute:
Lic. Cesar David Adolfo Ham Peña
Ministro Director del Instituto Nacional Agrário
Colonia La Alameda, 4ta Avenida entre 10ma. y 11va calles, No. 1009
Fax: 011 504 2239 7398
Salutation: Dear Minister Director / Estimado Ministro Director
with copies to:
Minister for Justice and Human Rights:
Ministra de Justicia y Derechos Humanos
Boulevard Juan Pablo Segundo
Palacio José Cecilio del Valle
Tegucigalpa, M.D.C., Honduras
Fax: 011 504 2290 5129
Sr. Luis Alberto Rubí
Fiscal General de la República
Lomas del Guijarro
Avenida República Dominicana, Edificio Lomas Plaza II
Fax: 011 504 2221 5667
Honduras is a party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), which obliges it to ensure that "Where those affected are unable to provide for themselves, the State party must take all appropriate measures, to the maximum of its available resources, to ensure that adequate alternative housing, resettlement or access to productive land, as the case may be, is available."
Under the ICESCR, Honduras is obliged to guarantee respect for "the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food". The Honduran state also has an obligation to consult with those affected by forced evictions and to provide "adequate and reasonable notice for all affected persons prior to the scheduled date of eviction".