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OHCHR ‘very concerned’ over militarization of public security in Honduras
Image: UN Photo/Evan Schneider

OHCHR ‘very concerned’ over militarization of public security in Honduras

| @indiablooms | 08 Jul 2023, 04:17 pm

New York: The UN human rights office (OHCHR) has urged authorities in Honduras to reinforce the “internal and external oversight of military operations” in the country, following the extending of a national state of emergency.

OHCHR Spokesperson Marta Hurtado told journalists in Geneva that the Government had issued a 45-day extension on Wednesday.

“The state of emergency, in force in 17 of the 18 departments in Honduras, enables the military police to support the national police in carrying out public security tasks. It also derogates the right of personal liberty, freedom of association, assembly, and movement, and allows security and armed forces to carry out arrests and searches without a warrant,” she said.

Military operations 

The Spokesperson said that on 21 June, the authorities announced that the command and control of the entire Honduran prison system was being transferred to the military police.

“This decision came in the wake of a violent incident at the national women’s prison in the town of Tamara, where 46 female inmates were killed when members of one gang attacked a part of the prison housing members of a rival gang,” said Ms. Hurtado.

Rights violations

She also voiced concerns about human rights violations and adequate access to food, water, and the practice of subjecting inmates to sleep deprivation. Ms. Hurtado also reported ill treatment of inmates by the military police.

“Initial monitoring by our Office, as well as information from civil society organizations and other sources with regard to military operations in prisons, indicates that inmates, in particular those allegedly associated with gangs, have been beaten and kicked by military police,” she said.

Criminal justice challenges

She called on authorities to end the abuse, halt violence against inmates, and prevent further violations of human rights. She also called for accountability and prompt investigation of allegations of unnecessary or disproportionate use of force.

“Efforts should immediately be redoubled to address long-standing criminal justice and prison challenges. These include the extensive use of incarceration, overcrowding, unsuitable living conditions, the lack of basic services, and inmates controlling some prisons,” Ms. Hurtado said.

“All efforts to address the prison challenge should be based on international human rights law and standards, including the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (known as the Nelson Mandela Rules),” she said, empasizing that OHCHR in Honduras remains available to provide technical assistance.

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