Friday, March 24, 2017

UN report tells Honduras to demilitarize security (March 24, 2017)

A new report from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the human rights situation in Honduras urges the government to take steps to demilitarize internal security, and to strengthen "transparency and civilian oversight in relation to defense and security."

The report, released this week, also calls on the government to improve the protection of rights of victims of crimes and human rights violations. EFE's coverage focuses on criticism of the expansion of the role of the Armed Forces in internal security and a recent law that broadly identifies terrorism.

The report calls for rapid demilitarization, but also notes that violence is widespread throughout Honduran society, reports El Heraldo.

Among other recommendations, the report also urges Congress to reform the country's criminal code and calls on the government to "develop and implement comprehensive penitentiary system reform that promotes the rehabilitative purpose of imprisonment and puts the system fully under civilian management."

The High Commissioner's representative in Honduras, María Soledad Pazo, emphasized the need to bring police, accused of criminal acts, to justice, reports Criterio. A restructuring of the national force began last year, in relation to accusations of illicit activities on the part of officers. But while 1,651 officers have been purged, none have been formally charged, notes the report.

Mere administrative restructuring is not enough in this case, said another UNHCHR official quoted in El Heraldo.

Pazo avoided answering questions about JOH's reelection bid, according to Criterio separately.

News Briefs
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  • Paramilitary forces have killed and displaced hundreds of people in Colombia since the government signed a peace deal with the FARC last year, according to Amnesty International. "Alarmingly, in various parts of Colombia the armed conflict is as alive as ever." The warning echoes widespread reports of attacks on human rights activists and community leaders, reports AFP.
  • Miroslava Breach -- who reported on murders in her home state of Chihuaha -- became the third journalist killed this month in Mexico, reports the Los Angeles Times. She was shot in her car, and a sign at the scene said "tattletale." She had reported on organised crime, drug-trafficking and corruption for a national newspaper, La Jornada, and a regional newspaper, Norte de Juarez, reports the BBC.
  • U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy warned that aid funding to Guatemala could be jeopardized by President Jimmy Morales' push to remove CICIG head Iván Velásquez, reports InSight Crime.
  • A recent debate in Peru over incorporating gender equality into schoolbooks is seen as a sneaky attempt to encourage children to view homosexuality positively by conservative groups, reports Vice News. Thousands marched earlier this month against "gender ideology," despite official assurances that the texts aim at equality between men and women. (See March 7's briefs.)
  • An Argentine judge has ordered former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to stand trial on charges of leading a plan to defraud the government of $3 billion through the dollars futures market, reports the New York Times. Though she has faced a multitude of accusations of wrongdoing since leaving office, this is the first time a trial has been ordered. The judge accuses Fernández, along with other government officials, of masterminding the plan to prop up the peso in the electoral period leading up to Nov. 2015. The former president has called the case an example of political persecution.
  • A high profile dispute over a Chinese copper mine has an Ecuadorian Amazon community facing off against military drones, reports the Guardian.
  • New restrictions in Mexico's Tabasco state forbid foreigners from hiring pregnancy surrogates, a change that is affecting a lucrative local market, reports the New York Times.

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