Inter-American Court finds Honduran state responsible for the murder of trans woman on the night of the June 2009 coup

Published by Brent Patterson on

Photo of Vicky Hernandez by Red Lésbica Cattrachas.

On June 29, The Guardian reported: “In a landmark ruling for transgender rights, the Honduras government has been found responsible for the 2009 murder of the trans woman and activist Vicky Hernández.”

“The ruling, at the inter-American court of human rights, was published on [June 28] the 12th anniversary of Hernández’s death, and marks the first time the highest regional human rights court has held a state accountable for failing to prevent, investigate and prosecute the death of a trans person.”

“The court has ordered Honduras, which has the world’s highest rate of murders of trans people, to pay reparations to Hernández’s family and implement a sweeping range of measures designed to protect trans people, including anti-discrimination training for security forces and state collection of data on violence against LGBTQ+ people.”

“Several indications of the participation of state agents” in Vicky’s death

The article adds: “Hernández was killed on the first night of the June 2009 coup d’état, in which the Honduran military ousted President Manuel Zelaya and enforced night-time curfews across the country.”

“The curfews were brought in to contain demonstrations against the coup, but were part of wider crackdown in which journalists, teachers, students and LGBTQ+ people were targeted.”

“Hernández, who relied on sex work to survive, had been on the streets with two other trans women when they saw a police car coming towards them. Fearing violence, they ran in different directions. The next morning, Hernández was found dead.”

“Lawyers working on Hernández’s case argued that state agents actually committed the murder. …The court ruling, which ordered Honduras to restart its investigation into Hernández’s death, found ‘several indications of the participation of state agents.’”

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights more categorically states: “The case was the first before the Court involving the death of a trans woman, activist Vicky Hernández, who was shot and killed by Honduran security forces during the country’s coup d’état in June 2009. The Court not only ruled that the Honduran government had discriminated against Vicky because of her gender identity, failing to properly investigate and prosecute her case for years, but that it was ultimately responsible for her state-sanctioned murder.”

No comment yet from Honduran government

The BBC adds: “The ruling, made on the anniversary of Ms. Hernández’s death, will set a legal precedent in Latin America, however the Honduran government has not yet commented on the court’s decision, and it is not clear how or when it will enact the court order.”

PBI-Honduras accompanies Arcoiris

On November 11, 2020, PBI-Honduras posted about the Inter-American Court for Human Rights public hearing into the murder of Hernandez.

PBI-Honduras commented: “Vicky’s case being evaluated today before the Inter-American Court for Human Rights represents a unique precedent for the rights of LGBTI+ people, not just in Honduras, but for throughout Latin America.”

PBI-Honduras has accompanied Arcoíris, the LGTB Association of Honduras, since July 2015.

Arcoiris coordinator Donny Reyes has stated: “The biggest problem that we face is the violence of the state security forces towards the LGBT+ community: the armed forces, the police, the criminal investigation police, military police, municipal police.”

Reyes adds: “The research studies that Arcoiris and other organizations have done reflect the same pattern — more than 60 per cent of hate crimes have been committed against us by those forces who should be guaranteeing our safety.”

For more, please see the Peace Brigades International and Mundubat report: En Peligro Constante [In Constant Danger].

Categories: News Updates


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