Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Children and young people still in danger in Honduras

  • Approximately 700 children and youths have been murdered in Honduras since February last year. In the past six years just 14 cases have led to charges. The Honduran government has recognized that police have been involved in many of the killings. However, to date only two policemen have been convicted. On 6 September 2002 the Honduran government created the Special Unit for Investigating Violent Deaths of Children (Unidad Especial de Investigación de Muertes Violentas de Niños) within the national police.
  • After nine months without results, the unit was restructured in June 2003 to give it more autonomy. While it has made some progress in investigating a small number of cases, only a handful of those responsible for killing children have been brought to justice. The Special Unit has only looked at 400 relevant cases out of more than 2,300. It has sent only 79 – just 3.4 per cent of the total – to the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
  • Despite claims by the government that hundreds of cases have been "resolved", only three cases have resulted in a conviction, a success rate of just 0.13 per cent.In 50 cases allegedly involving policemen that the children’s rights group Casa Alianza has passed to the Special Unit, no police officers have been convicted. Witnesses and family members are reluctant to come forward for fear of retaliation by gang members or police officers. Those who do, often pay the price.
  • Sara Sauceda Flores, mother of 16-year-old Darwin Roberto Flores who was killed in February 2002, has been intimidated and threatened after she filed complaints against two police officers she believes murdered her son.
  • In April 2004 she received an anonymous letter saying, "your days are coming to an end, you will end up worse than your son". The previous month, the taxi in which she was travelling was hit by a car carrying two people, one of whom had harassed her earlier from another vehicle. In January she found three bullet casings in her locker at work.Three days before Darwin Roberto Flores’ body was found, he had been arrested and beaten by a police officer and held for two days. He had previously been detained for "illicit association" with gangs and had been beaten at least twice. The year before, a policeman had told his mother that he would arrest her son every time he deemed it necessary, and that he would eventually have to kill him.
  • On the second anniversary of the creation of the Special Unit for the Investigation of Violent Deaths of Children, AI is reiterating its call for an end to the killing of children in Honduras. See Honduras: Zero Tolerance for Impunity: Extrajudicial executions of children and youths since 1998 (AMR 37/001/2003).
  • For more information contact equipoca@amnesty.org[Picture caption: Antonio Ramón Calero Díaz, aged 17, in his hospital bed after being shot four times in the back while trying to escape from police in November 1999. He died a few days later. The police officer accused of his murder has been released on bail and nearly five years later the case is still pending resolution.]

1 comment:

Irene Wood said...

Ironically, President Maduro's campaign has aimed to stop terrorism, but it is obvious that delinquency does not only come from gangs. Children are dying in the hands of bad cops. It sad to see the number of children that die because of this. However, what is more alarming, in my opinion, is the fact that these "bad" cops have the weapons and the impunity to do and undo whatever they wish to do. This is not a positive thing for society. Maslow's Heiriarchy of Needs states that the human being needs a sense of security in order to fully accomplish the final stage of self-actualization. What happens to a societal group when they cannot trust the integrity of their policemen. This band of fear is what creates a stagnation in the development of HOnduras. These "bad" cops should be sentences to jail on death row. What happenes to the Habeas Corpus law enforcement, what happens to children rights, what happens to freedom of speech and safety of telling the truth without having your throat slit open?
Irene Wood