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Honduras: UN experts shocked at killing of prominent human rights defender

GENEVA (1 October 2012) – Three UN experts have expressed their dismay at the killing of prominent human rights lawyer Antonio Trejo Cabrera in Honduras, amidst serious concerns for the security of human rights defenders in the country, in particular those peacefully working on land conflict issues.

“The killing of Antonio Trejo Cabrera in Honduras is totally unacceptable”, agreed the UN Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya; extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns; and freedom of expression, Frank LaRue.

On 2 September 2012, Antonio Trejo Cabrera was shot five times in the vicinity of Toncontín airport in Tegucigalpa and died shortly after from his injuries. Mr. Trejo Cabrebra was very active in the media denouncing alleged abuses by landowners and politicians. Hours before his killing, he had participated in a televised debate in which he accused political leaders of using private city projects to raise campaign funds.

In February 2012, Mr. Trejo Cabrera met with Mrs. Sekaggya during her official visit to Honduras and presented the situation of human rights defenders in the Lower Aguán Region. “During the meeting, Mr. Trejo Carrera indicated that he had repeatedly received death threats as a result of his work”, recalled the UN expert.

“I am very saddened by the killing of Mr. Trejo Cabrera and I echo what the High Commissioner for Human Rights has said about the unacceptable climate of insecurity and violence for defenders in the country”, said Mrs. Sekaggya. “It is imperative that the Government establishes a national protection programme for human rights defenders as soon as possible”.

In addition, Mr. Heyns expressed deep concern at the ongoing impunity with which perpetrators operate in the country and reminded the
Government of its “obligation to thoroughly, promptly and impartially investigate all suspected cases of extra-legal, arbitrary and summary
executions”.

Supporting this view, Mr. La Rue requested that the results of the investigation are shared with Antonio Trejo Cabrera’s family, the Honduran public and relevant UN Rapporteurs.

Antonio Trejo Cabrera was the lead lawyer for Movimiento Auténtico Reivindicador Campesino del Aguán (MARCA) and represented several agrarian cooperatives in the Lower Aguán Region in legal disputes with powerful landowners. He had been involved in a high profile case which resulted in a court decision in June 2012 declaring illegal the acquisition 18 years ago of land in San Isidro, La Trinidad and El Despertar, and ordering the return of those lands to MARCA.

(*) “Chronic insecurity in Honduras”: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/Media.aspx?IsMediaPage=true&LangID=E

ENDS

For more information log on to:
Human rights defenders: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/SRHRDefenders/Pages/SRHRDefendersIndex.aspx
Summary executions: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Executions/Pages/SRExecutionsIndex.aspx
Freedom of expression: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/FreedomOpinion/Pages/OpinionIndex.aspx

For further information and media requests, please contact Dolores Infante-Cañibano (+41 22 917 9768 / dinfante@ohchr.org)

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