Honduras (CCPR 22-08-2017)
The Committee considered the second periodic report of Honduras (CCPR/C/HND/2) at its 3378th and 3379th meetings (see CCPR/C/SR.3378 and 3379), held on 5 and 6 July 2017. At its 3404th meeting, held on 24 July 2017, it adopted the present concluding observations.
C. Principal matters of concern and recommendations
- The Committee is concerned about the discrimination experienced by women, the Afro-Honduran community, indigenous peoples and persons living in rural areas. The Committee is also concerned that too few indigenous peoples and Afro-Hondurans are part of representative political bodies or the Government. The Committee is further concerned about the discrimination experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, including with respect to the rights of same-sex couples and the identity of transgender persons (arts. 2, 3, 25, 26 and 27).
- The State party should ensure comprehensive protection against discrimination, including discrimination against women, the Afro-Honduran community and indigenous peoples and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. The State party should strengthen the National Institute for Women, in particular through an increase in its budget and the effective implementation of the Second Gender Equality and Equity Plan, 2010-2022. It should also ensure that the equality of same-sex couples and the identity of transgender persons are fully recognized and that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons are fully protected against hate crimes. The State party should adopt measures to increase the number of indigenous persons and Afro-Hondurans in public and political life.
Freedom of expression, freedom of association and violence against human rights defenders
- The Committee remains extremely concerned at the acts of violence and intimidation and the persistently high murder rates among, inter alios, human rights defenders, journalists, trade unionists, environmental activists, indigenous persons and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, and which are committed by State officials and private individuals and result in the death of persons such as Berta Cáceres who were protected under precautionary measures issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The Committee is also concerned about the excessive recourse to provisions on defamation and other criminal offences against persons exercising their rights to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of association and about the continued stigmatization of such persons by government officials. The Committee is further concerned by the conviction on 7 June 2017 of three students of the National Autonomous University of Honduras and by the criticism that members of the Government, among others, levelled at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Office of the National Commissioner for Human Rights in relation to their work promoting respect for the right to peaceful protest. While the Committee notes the adoption of the Act on the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, Journalists, Social Communicators and Justice Officials, it regrets that it has not been adequately implemented. The Committee also notes the fact that defamation, libel and insult do not carry a prison sentence (arts. 6, 7, 19, 21 and 22).
- The State party should, as a matter of urgency, take practical steps to:
(a) Provide effective protection to, inter alios, human rights defenders, journalists, trade unionists, environmental activists, indigenous persons and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons who are subjected to acts of violence and intimidation;
(b) Increase training and education programmes on the importance of freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of assembly for law enforcement officers, military personnel, staff of private security companies, judges and prosecutors;
(c) Ensure that all allegations concerning intimidation, threats and assault are investigated promptly, thoroughly, independently and impartially, that the perpetrators are brought to justice and duly punished in accordance with the gravity of the offence and that victims receive full reparation;
(d) Set up a mechanism to ensure that acts of violence and threats against human rights defenders are properly investigated and are not treated as ordinary offences; consider introducing a protocol for the Attorney General’s Office on the investigation of such offences; and extend the jurisdiction of the Unit for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders to include offences committed by private individuals;
(e) Consider the decriminalization of defamation and, in any case, the application of the criminal law should only be countenanced in the most serious cases, and imprisonment is never an appropriate penalty;
(f) Collect disaggregated data on assaults and murders among human rights defenders, journalists, trade unionists, environmental activists, indigenous persons and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons.