Canada comments on human rights in Honduras at its universal periodic review at the United Nations
At the United Nations Universal Periodic Review of the human rights situation in Honduras on November 5, Canada’s intervention, made by Rory Raudsepp-Hearne, the First Secretary at the Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations, stated:
“Canada thanks Honduras for its presentation and welcomes the creation of the Ministry of Human Rights represented today by Minister Cuevas. While this is an important step, we remain concerned about the overall human rights situation in Honduras.
Canada recommends that Honduras:
1- Strengthen measures for the prevention, investigation, and punishment of all sexual and gender-based violence including most specifically domestic violence and violence against LGBTI persons.
2- Protect freedom of expression by promptly investigating and prosecuting acts of intimidation, harassment and attacks against journalists, human rights defenders and Indigenous, Afro-descendant and community activists.
3- Increase efforts to ensure the independence of the judicial system, strengthening the investigation and prosecution of acts of corruption and human rights violations and prevent the criminalization of human rights defenders as well as community and Indigenous activists to ensure they are able to operate in a safe environment.
4- Investigate and bring to justice cases of human rights violations implicating military forces and create a well-defined plan to complete the reform of the police and remove the military from civilian security duties.”
Canada’s presentation can be viewed at item #31 at the 2:32:10 mark here.
PBI-Honduras has responded: “We value the recommendations of Canada as well as the rest of the States and we remember the importance of constant international observation and follow-up on these recommendations during the next five years. The next important appointment will be in the first quarter of 2021, when the Honduran State will announce which recommendations it accepts.”
PBI-Honduras has also previously noted: “In the context [of the Universal Periodic Review at the United Nations], we have worked to visibilize the specific violence and risks faced by women defenders of land, territory and the environment to demonstrate the need for a differentiated response by the Honduran State to their protection.”
It has highlighted: “As part of the 2015 UPR, the governments of Canada, the United States, Norway and Switzerland published recommendations in which they requested that the military police [created in August 2013] be redefined as a temporary measure, and lobbied for the intensifying the professionalization of the National Police and the inclusion of human rights training as part of this process.”
Despite this, PBI-Honduras notes : “[The Military Police for Public Order] has become a normalized practice and the number of officers continues to increase.”
Since the 2009 coup d’état in Honduras, PBI has seen with increasing concern the worsening of the situation of human rights defenders. Following a request in May 2010 for accompaniment, the PBI Honduras project was established in 2013.
Thirty-one human rights defenders were killed in Honduras in 2019, including 14 land and environmental defenders, making Honduras the most dangerous country in the world per capita for land and environmental defenders.
To read the PBI-Honduras report related to this UPR process, please see: Defending the Land Has a Woman’s Name. The complete list of 11 recommendations made by PBI-Honduras can be read on pages 28-29.