Monday, March 7, 2011

URGENT ACTION: Two Human Rights Defenders Under Threat

Two Urgent Actions From the Committee of Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared of Honduras -COFADEH
Read and Take Action Please!
The contact numbers and emails for the urgent actions are the same for both alerts.
Excerpts from both alerts in English follow.

Please direct letters in Spanish or English to:
Jorge Alberto Rivera Avilés
Presidente de la Corte Suprema de Justicia (President of the Supreme Court)
Tel (504) 269-3000 269-3069

Luis Alberto Rubí
Fiscal General de la República (Attorney General of the Republic of Honduras)
Fax (504) 221-5667
Tel (504) 221-5670 221-3099

With copies to:
Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras (COFADEH)
Barrio La Plazuela, Avenida Cervantes, Casa No. 1301
Apartado Postal 1243
Tegucigalpa, HONDURAS
Fax:+504 220 5280 (ask for "tono de fax, por favor")

Diplomatic Representatives in Honduras that represent your country of citizenship. U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa, Honduras 011-504- 2236-9320, 011-504-2238-5114 Fax Number: 011-504-2236-9037

Urgent Action: Jose Trinidad Sanchez
Human Rights Defender Threatened and Given Ultimatum

The Committee of Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared of Honduras (COFADEH) expresses its grave concern for the continued attacks against Human Rights Defender Trinidad Sánchez Argueta, Executive Director of the Network for Alternative Community Trade (Red COMAL) based in the city of Siguatepeque in the central department of Comayagua, at 149Km from the capital city of Tegucigalpa.
On the 25th of February, 2011, at 8:13pm, José Trinidad Sánchez received a text message on his cellphone with the following text: "Trinidad WE KNOW WHERE YOU ARE YOU LIVE IN EL PORBENIR your days are limited so enjoy what you have robbed from Comal as of today count down your days you are being watched you dog."

This is not the first act against Trinidad or the members of his family. In August, 2010, his 25-year-old son Jorge Luis, who was studying in the high school "Republic of Cuba" in the department of Santa Bárbara was detained and subject to mistreatment by agents of the Preventative Police who accused him of being Cuban. After hitting his head against a wall, handcuffing him and throwing him against the sidewalk, they expelled him from the department and ordered him not to return. In May 2010, an armed man dressed in black and carrying a number of instruments hiking/mountaineering violently entered Trinidad's home at 2:45am, threatened and removed the family members from their beds, pointed the firearm at them intimidatingly for several minutes, then took a camera and a computer monitor and left.

On November 28, 2009 at 1:40pm, a group of 50 individuals including uniformed police officers, police in civilian clothing, and military personnel violently entered the offices of Red COMAL located in the village of 3 de septiembre in the municipality of Siguatepeque and forced the watchman to open gate to the main building. Once inside, the individuals proceeded to break open the locks on the doors of various offices, including those of the School of Solidarity Economy Training Center.

COFADEH is deeply concerned by the situation faced by TRINIDAD SANCHEZ, especially in light of the pattern of systemic attacks against human rights defenders and social activists, particularly with respect to serious incidents registered in the last few months of home invasions, criminal attacks, and illegal entry into offices of human rights organizations. In the last two months three offices have been attacked and one human rights defender has had to leave the country due to reiterated death threats and continued persecution.

COFADEH requests that the national and international community urge the Honduran State to implement the necessary measures and mechanisms to effectively guarantee and protect the life and integrity of JOSE TRINIDAD SANCHEZ. The State must equally guarantee the Right to Defend Human Rights, as stated and universally recognized by the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, ratified in 1998, and the 1999 and 2000 resolutions in the OAS on human rights defenders in the Americas

URGENT ACTION: Leo Valladares Lanza
Human Rights Defender in Danger

With great concern, the Committee of Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared of Honduras (COFADEH) informs the national and international community of acts of harassment, persecution, and psychological aggression against Mr. Leo Valladares Lanza, the former Human Rights Commissioner of Honduras and the current director of the Association for Participatory Citizenship (ACI Participa).

The 21 of February, 2011 at 3:15pm, a taxi arrived at a private meeting Mr. Leo Valladares Lanza had with the Special Prosecutor for Children Nora Urbina. This same taxi had for some time been parking outside of Mr. Valladares' home, and followed him to the café where he was meeting with the Special Prosecutor and parked outside, where the driver made several calls on his cellphone. The situation was so alarming that neighbours informed the Valladares family of what was happening, and the Special Prosecutor requested an escort for him to return home.

On March 1st, the same taxi parked outside of the Valladares home, but this time was accompanied by another vehicle. The family called the police, who arrived and summoned the drivers of the vehicles in question. Following their inquiries, the police recommended to the family that they leave for a time and take additional security precautions.

Since the second week of February, unknown individuals have called the Valladares residence numerous times asking for “Rodrigo,” referringg to José Rodrigo Valladares Pineda, Mr. Valladares' young son who was murdered January 25, 2009 and who's death remains in impunity. After asking for him, the caller laughed menacingly. There has also been an unknown motorcycle making rounds near the residence and accelerating its motor in front of the house to such an extent that it activates the house alarm.

The above mentioned events occurred after Mr. Valladares participated as a speaker during a television program regarding the repositioning of the Armed Forces, the resurgence of militarism in post coup d'état Honduras, and the incorporation of the military in the structures of the Executive
Background:In his role as national Human Rights Commissioner, during his first year in office Mr. Leo Valladares Lanza presented a preliminary report on Disappeared Detainees. During the second year of his term, he presented a report on arbitrary and summary executions and another regarding the state of freedom of expression in Honduras. During his final term in office, unknown assailants violently entered his homee, beat his son Rodrigo and his wife Daysi Pineda, and apparently stole a vehicle which was abandoned two blocks from the house.

We request that the national and international community urge the Honduran State to:
• initiate an independent, impartial, and exhaustive investigation into the threats against Mr. Leo Valladares, that they make public the results of the investigation, and that the responsible parties appear in court;
• take immediate measures to provide effective and appropriate protection to Mr. Leo Valladares according to his wishes;
• carry out its responsibility to guarantee human rights defenders their right to carry out their work without unjust restriction and without fear of reprisal, as is established in the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders as well as the resolutions of the OAS.

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