COFADEH Exposes Systematic Attacks on Human Rights Defenders

Upon an invitation to lunch with the German Ambassador, Karl-Heinz Rode, on Monday, April 30th, COFADEH exposed the serious situation of threats and harassment since the organization began working in defense of human rights. The meeting was attended by the General Coordinator of COFADEH, Bertha Oliva, Nohemy Pérez y Dina Meza, in the early afternoon, where they also presented a written report detailing step by step the facts of how the integrity of several members of the organization has been compromised through different threatening scenarios.


“In my capacity as General Coordinator of the Committee of the Families of the Detained and Disappeared (Comité de Familiares de los Detenidos y Desaparecidos, COFADEH), I write to inform and report acts that compromise the safety of the human rights defenders members of COFADEH; attacks that reflect a systematic pattern of aggressions against defenders that have intensified in the last two years, especially after the democratic breakdown that has affected Honduras since the year 2009”, says part of the statement.


It also says that following the coup in June 2009, members of the COFADEH have suffered repeated death threats, sabotage to their cars, attacks against their facilities, and campaigns to disqualify work in defense of human rights by top authorities of the State and judicial intimidation.


Regarding precautionary measures that the State of Honduras should have implemented since 2009, and which were agreed upon by consensus on April 21, 2010, COFADEH indicated that the authorities are responsible for issuing monthly reports on police activities provided to beneficiaries. However, this organization did not receive reports of the activities; the police did not deploy patrols in the established zones; and there was no progress in the investigation into the origin of the threats despite the authorities committing to investigate in a meeting on August 23, 2010, after which new incidents of insecurity arose for the staff of the COFADEH.


In another set of facts presented to Ambassador Karl-Heinz Rode, the COFADEH noted that the threats intensified beginning February 22 of this year, taking the form of physical aggression against Noehmy Pérez, COFADEH founder. See more about the denouncement. Various threats against Meza were also denounced.


Additionally, they discussed the situation of the implementation of protective measures for Bertha Oliva, which have been erratic and did not resolve a criminal attack against one of the police that was assigned to the area around her residence, and who was shot by unknown assailants in October of last year.


On May 4, 2011, the young daughter of the COFADEH Coordinator was subject to harassment by a gray, Frontier van driven by two people. They began following her from the local store on the Boulevard de las Fuerzas Armadas, and soon honked at her and gestured for her to stop. On May 5, 2011, a man carrying a backpack was doing surveillance on the block in which COFADEH Coordinator Bertha Oliva de Nativí’s house is located; he remained for six hours, from 7:00 am until 1:00 pm.

Other actions against COFADEH staff and their relatives, which have been systematic and are aimed to hinder the work of human rights defenders, were also denounced.


These have already spread to international observers who have intended to support staff at risk. See more information on the report.


The lack of State action causes the human right defenders to be targets of attacks.


The lack of attention and response by the authorities of the State of Honduras to the denouncements made by the human rights defenders about threats and attacks as well as the lack of implementation and follow up of protective measures suggested by international advocates causes the defenders to be permanent targets of attacks. In the last year, members of the COFADEH and collaborators have faced multiple attacks, with a total of 58 cases recorded between 2011 and 2012, including death threats, physical attacks, acts of intimidation, espionage, stigmatization, detentions, searches, abusive pat downs, and the defaming of their work.


For the reasons stated above, the COFADEH requested the following from the German Ambassador:


1.         To address the State of Honduras in accordance with the guidelines for European Union human rights defenders

2.         To remind the State of its international obligation to ensure and respect human rights and to provide adequate security conditions so that the defenders can do their defense work without fear of reprisal, specifically in the case of COFADEH members.

3.         Submit this information to the Delegation of the European Union and the G-16 Delegation.

4.         Address the issue of the situation of the defenders outlined in this case with Honduran authorities in the Executive and Judicial branches in Honduras.

5.         Submit information about the case in reference to the EU Missions: Embassies and Consulates of EU countries and EU delegations in Honduras.



Original in Spanish:


Translated by PROAH