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Honduras murders: UN Expert urges independent investigation into killings of rights defenders

GENEVA (22 April 2016) –The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst today urged Honduras to set up an independent investigation into the murders of Berta Cáceres and Nelson Garcia in March:

“I strongly support calls by the victims’ families and civil society groups for an independent and interdisciplinary investigation of the murders of Berta Cáceres and Nelson Garcia, and encourage the Honduran authorities to seek support from regional and international organizations to carry out an independent investigation.

I want to ensure full confidence in the results of the investigation and we encourage the Honduran authorities to keep an open dialogue with the victims’ families and civil society, informing them regularly and involving them in the progress of the investigation, and also to provide for their protection.

I therefore encourage the Honduran authorities to find a suitable way and means of ensuring an independent and impartial investigation of this case, that will also send a strong signal that no murder of human rights defenders in the country will go unpunished.

The assassinations of human rights defenders in Honduras in recent months is gravely concerning, and I therefore urge the Government of Honduras to express publicly its full support for the legitimate work of human rights defenders in general and to take measures to ensure a safe environment for defenders."

BACKGROUND:

Following the murders of Berta Cáceres and Nelson Garcia in March 2016, their families and several civil society organisations stressed the need for an international investigation of the killings. They sent an open letter to the Organization of American States on 13 April, pointing to what they said was the unsatisfactory handling of the investigation by the Honduran authorities and alleging corruption. They said they had no confidence in the findings of any investigation carried out solely by national institutions.  
ENDS

Mr. Michel Forst (France) was appointed by the Human Rights Council as the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders in 2014. Michel Forst has extensive experience on human rights issues and particularly on the situation of human rights defenders. In particular, he was the Director General of Amnesty International (France) and Secretary General of the first World Summit on Human Rights Defenders in 1998. For more information, log on to:
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/SRHRDefenders/Pages/SRHRDefendersIndex.aspx

Read the Special Rapporteur’s reports on the global threats facing human rights defenders, and on the situation of women human rights defenders: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/SRHRDefenders/Pages/AnnualReports.aspx

The UN human rights experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights, is the general name of the independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity. Learn more, visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/Pages/Welcomepage.aspx

Learn more, log on to:
Human rights defenders: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/SRHRDefenders/Pages/SRHRDefendersIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests please contact Elisabeth Andvig (+41 22 9179245 / eandvig@ohchr.org)
For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Liz Throssell - Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9466 / ethrossell@ohch.org)
Cecile Pouilly – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9310 / cpouilly@ohchr.org)  

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