Urgent Action: Attacks by Police on Civilians Continue in Honduras
The Committee of Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared in Honduras (Cofadeh) express our concern for repeated abuse committed by the Honduran police against the population. In the last two weeks at least three people have reported assaults and assassination attempts by police officers.
January 7, 2012, around 8:00 p.m., Gonzalo Cruz, 42 years old and resident of the community of San Antonio, in the village of Taragual, municipality of Iguala, department of Lempira, was returning from buying medicine when he was shot by police officers Amado Jovel Díaz and Danilo Jovel Díaz, who were drinking alcoholic beverages at the time. Both officers demanded that Gonzalo Cruz provide them with more drinks, and since Gonzalo did not have any alcohol with him they repeatedly shot at him. According to reports from physicians who attended him at the Santa Rosa Hospital, he suffered 14 wounds in different parts of his body. One of the bullets resulted in severe damage to one of his lungs. The police officers, who were dressed in civilian clothing, abandoned the scene on a motorcycle.
Gonzalo Cruz is an active member of the Comprehensive Coordinating Committee of Taragual (Coordinadora Integral del Taragual) and the Network in Defence of the Right to Common Property (Red en Defensa de los Derechos de los Bienes Comunes), which is currently engaged in a struggle to defend natural resources, particularly against the concession of rivers for hydroelectric projects.
In the first half of the month of December, 2011, these same police officers were taking photographs of the houses of active members in the community, especially those who had been identified as members of the Resistance.
Other Acts of Police Aggression:
On December 26, 2012 at around 8:30pm, Marco Aurelio Lorenzo, parish priest of the catholic church of Macuelizo, Santa Bárbara, was attacked along with two of his brothers by eight members of the Police near the turnoff towards El Rosario, near kilometre 24 on the highway between San Miguelito and Yamaranguila in the department of Intibucá. He lost consciousness due to his injuries and required sixteen stitches in his head. His younger brother suffered a broken rib.
On December 22 at around 9:30pm, members of the police force ordered journalist and correspondent for Colombian television station NTN24, Leonel Espinoza, to get out of his vehicle. They pointed their regulation weapons at him, handcuffed his hands behind his back with so much force that his wrists nearly bled, and began to beat him. He was held by the police for close to an hour. Although he requested the help of high-ranking police officials, the patrol assigned to aid him failed to do so, and instead humiliated him and falsely accused him of public disorder/disturbing the peace. The incident occurred when the journalist was driving his car to the San José de la Peña district in Comayagüela.
Cofadeh is concerned about the systematic pattern of attacks against civil society activists by police officers, and asks the national and international community to demand that the State of Honduras adopts the necessary measures and effective mechanisms to guarantee the life of Gonzalo Cruz. It should also demand a thorough and impartial investigation into the facts surrounding these incidents and appropriate punishment of those responsible.
Please direct letters, calls and faxes to Honduran Justice officials:
Jorge Alberto Rivera Avilés
President of the Supreme Court
Tel (504) 269-3000 269-3069
Luis Alberto Rubí
Fax (504) 221-5667
Tel (504) 221-5670 221-3099
And copy to:
Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras (COFADEH)
Barrio La Plazuela, Avenida Cervantes, Casa No. 1301
Apartado Postal 1243
Fax:+504 220 5280 (call and ask for: "tono de fax")