International Human Rights Mission concludes

Human rights abuses in Bajo Aguán will be denounced internationally


IUF Latin America and the national and international organizations that participated in the International Mission to Bajo Aguán held a press conference to present the preliminary findings of their investigation.


The International Mission that took place from Feb. 24 through Mar. 5, 2011 observed on the field the human right situation in Bajo Aguán, and is now presenting the initial findings of its investigation.


According to the press release distributed to the media at the conference, “The Mission has established with concern that the repression and violence against members of the peasant communities and organizations has not stopped, and that they are totally exposed and vulnerable in the face of biased authorities.”


“Moreover, the deadly crimes committed in Bajo Aguán are going unpunished, making it easier for human rights violations to be repeated.”


Most alarmingly, the Mission found that in all 19 murder cases committed against peasants over the past year not a single inquest was conducted and no arrest warrants were issued.


It also denounces the multiple violations of the right to physical integrity perpetrated by both members of the police and private security guards hired by the area’s large landowners and palm producers to patrol their estates.


In addition, the press release reports cases of kidnapping and torture, multiple injuries, and sexual abuse.


“There’s a very dense atmosphere of repression against peasant families, and forced evictions continue. This is a blatant violation of human rights, which is of great concern to us,” Martín Wolpold-Bosien, Central American coordinator of FIAN International, told Sirel.

The Mission observed that the current rural development model based on agribusiness and land concentration must be changed in favor of “policies that promote sustainable peasant farming, and the implementation of a comprehensive agrarian reform.


The International Mission’s investigation further revealed a total lack of compliance with the agreements signed with peasant organizations and with legal provisions regulating agricultural matters, and an alarming climate of stigmatization and criminalization of peasant struggles.


Repression, violence, defenselessness, impunity, and vulnerability of the peasant population continue. We are going to denounce all of this to the international community,” Wolpold-Bosien said.


In view of this situation, the International Mission called on national authorities to investigate the murders and other crimes committed in the area and prosecute the perpetrators, and to act immediately to put a stop to the repression and violence against the peasant movement.


It also demanded that the authorities comply with all the agreements signed and apply any relevant legal provisions in force, and that they facilitate the population’s access to land, health, education, and housing.


Lastly, the members of the Mission observed that the current rural development model based on agribusiness and land concentration must be changed in favor of “policies that promote sustainable peasant farming, and the implementation of a comprehensive agrarian reform.”


The international community, in turn, was asked to contribute with concrete and firm measures and greater protection for the people who are at risk, by “conditioning its cooperation to full respect for human rights.”


The international community must also ensure that the financial cooperation it provides the government and private companies “does not contribute to human rights abuses,” and it was asked to review any financial agreements signed “with police forces and private security companies that may be implicated in acts of violence, harassment, or human rights violations in the region.”


“It has been a very enriching and significant experience, fruit of the efforts of all the organizations that have participated in this Mission. Sharing the tragedy and suffering of the affected population has strengthened our commitment with their struggle.”


“We’re going to follow this situation very closely, while we accompany the struggle for human rights and against impunity,” Wolpold-Bosien concluded.


The final report will be presented to the Truth Commission (CdV), the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR), the United Nations’ Human Rights Council (HRC), the European Union, and the International Criminal Court (ICC).




From Tegucigalpa, Giorgio Trucchi


March 7, 2011






Photo: Giorgio Trucchi


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