Honduras must boost protection of LGBTI rights defenders, UN experts urge after latest attack

GENEVA – Honduras must tackle violence and intimidation against human rights defenders, a group of United Nations experts* has urged after attacks targeting people promoting the human rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community.
We are deeply concerned that in Honduras, even today, human rights defenders and activists who protect and promote the human rights of LGBTI people are often the target of hateful violent acts,” the experts say.

“These attacks are being perpetrated against civil society organizations and their individual members. We continue to receive information relating to threats and attacks, and we are deeply concerned by the level of violence, which in some cases has resulted in loss of lives,” the experts added.

The experts’ call follows attacks including the attempted murder of prominent LGBTI human rights defender, Osmin David Valle Castillo, programme manager at the Center for LGBTI Development and Cooperation - Somos CDC.

According to information received by the experts, Mr. Valle Castillo was attacked and stabbed multiple times when he returned to his home in Tegucigalpa on 10 July 2017. His attacker has not been identified.

The attack came three months after Mr. Valle Castillo had requested protection for his organization and its members, because of the ongoing intimidation and threats they were suffering.  In April he met the Technical Committee of the Honduran National Mechanism for Protection of Human Rights Defenders, which approved the installation of cameras and a direct telephone line for urgent communication with the authorities.

“We welcome the news that the Public Prosecutor’s Office is investigating the attack on Mr. Valle Castillo,” the experts said.

We call on the Honduran authorities to ensure it is effective, and that all those responsible are prosecuted and convicted.

“The prompt, thorough and impartial investigation of such cases is a key element of a democratic society and in its efforts to curb violence and fight impunity,” they added.

“Violence and intimidation against LGBTI human rights defenders should be met with a firm response by governments, to ensure that defenders and activists are free to carry out their important work of promoting and protecting human rights for all,” the UN experts concluded.

(*) The experts: Mr. Vitit Muntarbhorn, Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity; Ms. Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Mr. Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Mr. David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection the right to freedom of opinion and expression; and Ms. Annalisa Ciampi, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association.