Honduras

red-nacional-honduras-jassUnder the post-coup government the country continues to experience violations of human rights, gender-based violence and assassinations, particularly against members of the pro-democracy movement that formed in response to the coup. The post-coup governments have reversed gains in women’s reproductive and sexual rights, labor rights and rural land reforms. None of the crimes committed by the coup government have been investigated or prosecuted, including forced disappearances, rapes and murders. As international attention diminishes, there is a serious risk of consolidating the anti-democratic measures imposed during the coup. Attacks on opposition members and leaders, and human rights defenders, hae intensified, including the widespread use of gender-based violence to harm and intimidate women activists and leaders.

"The problem is that the entire system is a system of corruption, a system of injustice, a system of complete impunity". - Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams, January 2012

Members of the military have retaken control, assuming the role of police and eroding civilian democratic institutions. This has led to a sharp rise in human rights violations and an atmosphere of terror throughout the country. Military presence and, in some places, occupation has become so widespread that society increasingly considers normal. The government justifies the military occupation in the name of fighting organized crime and the war on drugs, but insecurity and violence has increased alarmingly in the context of militarization. In 2011, Honduras registered a murder rate of 86 per 100,000, making it the most violent nation in the world according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. Although official figures indicate that the homicide rate has fallen in the past years, it continues to be extremely high. Violence and extreme poverty have forced thousands to migrate northward. Violence against women has grown and the rate of femicides increased by over 260 percent between 2005 and 2013, according to the Center for Women’s Rights. In 2015 one woman was killed every 16 hours on average. After Mexico, Honduras is the country with the largest number of journalists assassinated in Latin America, according to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression.

“In Honduras, freedom of expression does not exist..." - Frank LaRue Lewy, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression

Women human right defenders in Honduras often face threats, defamation and manipulation from public officials and politicians. Government authorities and media controlled by a handful of business groups continue to discredit women human rights defenders by falsely maligning them as terrorists, drug traffickers and common criminals. This endangers women defenders’ lives and cuts them off from the communities they are defending, as well as serving to disguise the repression they face. 

Supporting Activists

Since the coup in 2009, JASS Mesoamerica has collaborated with a number of women’s and human rights groups, including Feminists in Resistance and the Center for Women’s Rights--groups that have taken active roles in organizing and mobilizing within the resistance movement. JASS Mesoamerica also supports the National Women Human Rights Defenders Network in Honduras in its work to denounce violence against women leaders and defenders and works alongside organizations including the Civic Counsel of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) and works to  support the demand for justice in the assassination of its leader, Berta Caceres.  

By linking our training processes to political organizing and action, JASS Mesoamerica builds its network and fosters new relationships with women defenders and women’s rights organizations. We have held communications and ICT trainings with Feminists in Resistance and indigenous women, mobilized emergency resources to support women’s organizations during the coup and supported and facilitated conversations and engagement between Honduran women activists, and government officials and civil society actors in the United States. JASS Mesoamerica has also been instrumental in bringing international attention to human rights violations against women defenders in Honduras.

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Note: JASS is proud to be a co-signer of the following declaration to support the new International Experts Advisory Group to investigate the murder of our friend and colleague, Berta Cáceres, defender of land, territory, and indigenous and women's rights in Honduras.

2016 has been a year of, "mourning and mobilizing". Despite tough circumstances everywhere, JASS is rich with stories of hope and change. It’s been a busy and exciting year for us and we would like to share some of the highlights that have inspired and affirmed the work we do.

“Protection of women defenders must be based on recognizing their existence, but also their contribution to creating better societies,” said a participant during a forum with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, Michel Forst who visited Central American countries to hear directly from defenders about the challenges and risks they face.

From September 8-11, we joined nearly 2000 diverse participants from across the globe in Brazil. From the Black Feminist Forum, plenaries, sessions and hubs, we were incredibly inspired and energized by what we heard, learned and offered. Together with allies, we shared stories and tools for cross-movement power and change.

Join us and our allies in sharing stories and tools for cross-movement power and change including the launches of WeRise: Movement Building Reimagined – JASS' online resource kit and platform, ICTs for Feminist Movement Building Activist Toolkit, and DefendHer, a women human rights defenders digital campaign.