GENEVA (9 October 2009) – The United Nations Working Group on the use of mercenaries* expressed its concerns today, about reports that former paramilitaries from Colombia have been recently recruited in Honduras to protect properties and individuals from further violence between supporters of the de facto government and those of the deposed President Manuel Zelaya.
According to the information available to date, some 40 former Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC) members were being recruited by land owners in Honduras to protect them and their properties from possible violence following the coup on 28 June 2009. Other sources mentioned the formation of a 120-persons group of paramilitaries from several countries in the region to support the coup in Honduras.
There are also allegations of indiscriminate use of "Long Range Acoustic Devices" by the police and mercenaries against President Zelaya and his supporters who have taken refuge at the Embassy of Brazil.
"We urge the Honduran authorities to take all practical measures to prevent the use of mercenaries within its territory and to fully investigate allegations concerning their presence and activities," said the group of experts.
The Working Group recalls, without giving at this stage any opinion on the facts of the case, that Honduras is a party to the International Convention against the recruitment, use, financing and training of mercenaries, which prohibit these activities.
The Working Group stresses the principle of self-determination by which all peoples have the right to determine freely their political status and pursue freely their economic, social and cultural development as well as the right of the people of a certain nation to decide how they want to be governed without the influence of any other entity.
(*) The Working Group is composed of five independent experts serving in their personal capacities: Ms. Shaista Shameem (Chairperson-Rapporteur, Fiji), Ms. Najat al-Hajjaji (Libyan Arab Jamahiriya), Ms. Amada Benavides de Pérez (Colombia), Mr. José Luis Gómez del Prado (Spain), and Mr. Alexander Nikitin (Russian Federation). The Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination was established in 2005 by the Commission on Human Rights.