Committee of Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared of Honduras (COFADEH)
Human Rights Defender in Danger
With great concern, the Committee of Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared of Honduras (COFADEH) informs the national and international community of acts of harassment, persecution, and psychological aggression against Mr. Leo Valladares Lanza, the former Human Rights Commissioner of Honduras and the current director of the Association for Participatory Citizenship (ACI Participa).
The 21 of February, 2011 at 3:15pm, a taxi arrived at a private meeting Mr. Leo Valladares Lanza had with the Special Prosecutor for Children Nora Urbina. This same taxi had for some time been parking outside of Mr. Valladares’ home, and followed him to the café where he was meeting with the Special Prosecutor and parked outside, where the driver made several calls on his cellphone. The situation was so alarming that neighbours informed the Valladares family of what was happening, and the Special Prosecutor requested an escort for him to return home.
On March 1st, the same taxi parked outside of the Valladares home, but this time was accompanied by another vehicle. The family called the police, who arrived and summoned the drivers of the vehicles in question. Following their inquiries, the police recommended to the family that they leave for a time and take additional security precautions.
Since the second week of February, unknown individuals have called the Valladares residence numerous times asking for “Rodrigo,” referringg to José Rodrigo Valladares Pineda, Mr. Valladares’ young son who was murdered January 25, 2009 and who’s death remains in impunity. After asking for him, the caller laughed menacingly. There has also been an unknown motorcycle making rounds near the residence and accelerating its motor in front of the house to such an extent that it activates the house alarm.
The above mentioned events occurred after Mr. Valladares participated as a speaker during a television program regarding the repositioning of the Armed Forces, the resurgence of militarism in post coup d’état Honduras, and the incorporation of the military in the structures of the Executive Powers of the State.
In his role as national Human Rights Commissioner, during his first year in office Mr. Leo Valladares Lanza presented a preliminary report on Disappeared Detainees. During the second year of his term, he presented a report on arbitrary and summary executions and another regarding the state of freedom of expression in Honduras. During his final term in office, unknown assailants violently entered his homee, beat his son Rodrigo and his wife Daysi Pineda, and apparently stole a vehicle which was abandoned two blocks from the house.
We request that the national and international community urge the Honduran State to:
- initiate an independent, impartial, and exhaustive investigation into the threats against Mr. Leo Valladares, that they make public the results of the investigation, and that the responsible parties appear in court;
- take immediate measures to provide effective and appropriate protection to Mr. Leo Valladares according to his wishes;
- carry out its responsibility to guarantee human rights defenders their right to carry out their work without unjust restriction and without fear of reprisal, as is established in the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders as well as the resolutions of the OAS.
Please direct letters in Spanish or English to:
Jorge Alberto Rivera Avilés
Presidente de la Corte Suprema de Justicia (President of the Supreme Court)
Tel (504) 269-3000 269-3069
Luis Alberto Rubí
Fiscal General de la República (Attorney General of the Republic of Honduras)
Fax (504) 221-5667
Tel (504) 221-5670 221-3099
With copies to:
Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras (COFADEH)
Barrio La Plazuela, Avenida Cervantes, Casa No. 1301
Apartado Postal 1243
Fax:+504 220 5280 (ask for "tono de fax, por favor")
Diplomatic Representatives in Honduras that represent your country of citizenship.