IACHR Condemns Murders in Honduras

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the murders of Honduran union leaders Rosa Altagracia Fuentes and Virginia García de Sánchez and their driver, Juan Bautista Aceituno Estrada. Fuentes was secretary general of the Honduras Workers Confederation (Confederación de Trabajadores de Honduras) and second vice chair for the Central American Region of the recently created Union Confederation of Workers of the Americas (Confederación Sindical de Trabajadores de las Américas), while García de Sánchez was affiliated with the Union of Women Campesinas of Honduras (Unión de Mujeres Campesinas de Honduras).

According to information received by the IACHR, on April 24, 2008, gunmen dressed in black and wearing ski masks over their faces opened fire on the vehicle carrying the two union leaders and their driver. The information indicates that they were traveling from San Pedro Sula to Progreso for activities related to their union work.

The IACHR reiterates its recommendation to implement, as a priority matter, a comprehensive policy of protection for human rights defenders and to "adopt an effective and exhaustive strategy of prevention in order to prevent attacks against human rights defenders." This recommendation was included in its Report on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in the Americas, published in 2006, in which the IACHR determined that trade union leaders are among human rights defenders who are especially exposed to the infringement of their rights.

The IACHR urges the State of Honduras to conduct a thorough investigation and to punish those responsible for these murders. It also calls on the State to guarantee the life and physical integrity of those who struggle to bring about better labor or social conditions for working men and women.

[Source: Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Press Release No. 19/08, Washington, 05May08]

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