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Honduras: UN blames military for protester deaths

March 13, 2018

Honduran military police used "excessive" and lethal force against people protesting November's disputed elections, the UN has found. A majority of the 23 people killed in the demonstrations were shot by security forces.

A demonstrator kicks a tear gas canister during a protest in Honduras
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/E. Verdugo

Security forces in Honduras used an excessive amount of force to control protests following November's contested election, resulting in more than a dozen deaths, according to the United Nations.

A report released by the UN human rights office found that out of the 23 people who are known to have died during the protests, military and police officers shot dead at least 16 of them — including two women and two children.

Opinion: Honduras crisis was long in the making

The military police in particular "used excessive force, including lethal force, to control and disperse protests, leading to the killing and wounding of protesters as well as passers-by," the report stated.

Seven of the victims died from being shot in the head with live ammunition, while other deaths occurred when victims were fleeing.

"These cases raise serious concerns about the use of excessive lethal force and may amount to extrajudicial killings," the report said.

Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernandez
Protests erupted in Honduras following Herandez's controversial re-electionImage: Reuters/J. Cabrera

Human rights in Honduras 'fragile'

Protests broke out in Honduras following the November 26 presidential election that saw conservative President Juan Orlando Hernandez re-elected after he appeared set to lose to his center-left opponent Salvador Nasralla.

The left-wing opposition claims the election was stolen by Hernandez, who is supported by the United States. Despite accusations of fraud, the result was eventually ratified.

The UN body also noted that as of January 27 — the date of Hernandez's inauguration — no member of the security forces has been charged concerning the killings

"The situation of human rights in Honduras remains fragile, characterized by high levels of violence and insecurity, a pervasive social conflict, and impunity for past and ongoing human rights violations and corruption," the UN report said.

rs/rc   (AFP, Reuters)

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