Tuesday, 12 July 2011

COFADEH denounces corruption over murdered teacher Ilse Velásquez

Urgent Action From COFADEH
: HondurasResists, 16 June 2011.

The Committee of the Families of the Detained and Disappeared of Honduras (COFADEH) and the Velásquez Rodríguez family speak out to the national and international community to denounce the actions of the Public Ministry related to investigations initiated in the case of the violent death of teacher Ilse Ivania Velásquez Rodríguez on March 18, 2011.

As you will remember, on March 18, 2011, Ilse Ivania Velásquez Rodríguez, together with her children and son-in-law, also a teacher, participated in the teachers protest held in front of the INPREMA[1] headquarters, Boulevard Centroamérica in Tegucigalpa. Teachers were peacefully protesting peacefully the institutional crisis in Honduras which has impacted the teaching sector. Suddenly, repressive forces began launching dozens of tear gas bombs from different angles, creating a state of confusion. The quantity of smoke generated and the concentration of gas impeded visibility, provoked asphyxiation and confusion among the people and blocked the forced evacuation. The Velásquez family ran in different directions. Ilse was hit in the head by a tear gas bomb. The impact of the bomb knocked her to the ground, falling face down onto the pavement of the Boulevard Francia. While lying unconscious on the pavement, her body was subsequently hit by a vehicle[2].

We know that the Public Ministry’s Special Prosecutor for Human Rights has begun a process of closing the case of the teacher, Ilse Ivania Velásquez Rodríguez, arguing that she died due to a traffic accident. According to the Forensic Medical Report, dated May 2, 2011, the impact from the car to her hip made her fall to the ground. The impact of the fall would be the cause of death. This version is contradicted by testimonies of people present at the protest and demonstrates the lack of thorough forensic analysis.

The Special Prosecutor for Human Rights of the Public Ministry has not investigated the use of force on the part of state agents on that day. According to witnesses, newspaper reports and videos, the protest which was totally peaceful – with protestors raising their arms in the sign of peace – was heavily repressed by the police and military. Indiscriminate and disproportionate force was used against protestors exercising their legitimate right to assemble peacefully which is clearly guaranteed under the law and international human rights treaties to which Honduras is a signatory [3].

Because a person was killed under circumstances in which state agents are implicated, the Public Ministry has the obligation to thoroughly investigate the events described and begin a judicial process to determine those responsible according to the law.

On April 7, 2011, COFADEH and the Velásquez Rodríguez family presented a complaint to the Public Ministry against Porfirio Lobo Sosa, who exercises the Executive power, Oscar Arturo Álvarez Guerrero Security Minister and Marlon Pascua, Secretary of Defense. Despite the complaint, the Special Prosecutor for Human Rights has not only failed to initiate an impartial and exhaustive investigative process but intends to close the case, resulting in impunity in this case, denying the family of the victim the right to truth and to justice.

COFADEH and the Velásquez Rodríguez family request the national and international community to demand that the State of Honduras conduct an exhaustive investigation into the circumstances that caused the death of teacher Ilse Velásquez Rodríguez. We request that the actions of state agents be investigated in the context of protests during the month of March 2011; in other words, the abuse of authority and indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force on the part of the Honduran police and military. Those responsible should be punished according to the law and the State of Honduras must guarantee the right of the people of Honduras to peaceful assembly as recognized by Honduran and international law.

Please make calls to the following authorities:

Jorge Alberto Rivera Avilés
Presidente de la Corte Suprema de Justicia
Tel (504) 2269-3000 2269-3069
Mail: cedij@poderjudicial.gob.hn

Luis Alberto Rubí
Fiscal General de la República.
Fax (504) 2221-5667
Tel (504) 2221-5670 2221-3099
Mail: lrubi@mp.hn

Send copies to:

Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras (COFADEH)
Barrio La Plazuela, Avenida Cervantes, Casa No. 1301
Apartado Postal 1243
Tegucigalpa, HONDURAS
Fax:+504 2220 5280 (solicite: "tono de fax")
Mail: berthacofadeh[at]yahoo.com

If you speak Spanish there are numbers to call and you can send a note to the COFADEH email to let them know that you called. If you do not speak Spanish you can write in English to the email addresses of the government officials listed and send a copy to COFADEH.

Please also send copies to Honduran diplomatic representatives accredited in your countries.

[1] Instituto Nacional de Previsión del Magisterio.
[2] Denuncia presentada al MP el 07 de abril de 2011.
[3] Artículo 78 y 79 de la Constitución de la República; Artículo 20 de la Declaración Universal de Derechos Humanos; Artículo 21 del Pacto Internacional de Derechos Civiles y Políticos; Artículo 15 de la Convención Americana sobre Derechos Humanos; Artículo 21 de la Declaración Americana de los Derechos y Deberes del Hombre.