murder of human rights lawyer

Investigate murder of human rights lawyer Dionisio García in Honduras

De: RCValle e-mail,  [ajouter au carnet d'adresses]
Date: 12/12/2006

Please copy, paste the letter and put your name at the end of it. READ THE NEWS BELOW THE LETTER.
COPY AND PASTE IN THE “TO” FIELD:

Honduran Embassy in Canada e-mail,
Honduran Embassy in DC e-mail,
LEONIDAS ROSA BAUTISTA Fiscal General del Estado e-mail,
Dr RAMON CUSTODIO LOPEZ Comisionado Nacional de Derechos Humanos e-mail,
COPY AND PASTE IN THE “Cc” FIELD:
COFADEH e-mail, ,
Canadian Embassy in Honduras e-mail,
J.Layton e-mail,
“Peter MacKay P.C. M.P.” e-mail,
Liberal Party of Canada Foreign Affairs Critic Keith Martin e-mail,
A.McDonough e-mail,
Stephen Harper e-mail.

Sr. MANUEL ZELAYA ROSALES
Presidente de la República de Honduras
Casa Presidencial
Boulevard Juan Pablo Segundo
Palacio José Cecilio del Valle
Tegucigalpa, Honduras
Fax: (504) 2214552
Honduran Embassy in Canada

Honduran Embassy in DC
fax (202) 966-9751
Washington, USA

Abogado LEONIDAS ROSA BAUTISTA
Fiscal General del Estado
Ministerio Público
Tegucigalpa, Honduras

Dr. RAMON CUSTODIO LOPEZ
Comisionado Nacional de Derechos Humanos
Tegucigalpa, Honduras

Sirs:
I am expressing my concern at the December 4 murder of human rights lawyer Dionisio García in Honduras.

I urge the corresponding authorities to investigate the crime and that those found responsible be brought to justice. I request that the Honduran government take the necessary steps to provide immediate protection for threatened ASJ journalists Robert Marín García, Dina Meza, Claudia Mendoza and Rosa Morazán and ASJ president Carlos Hernández.

I am also asking for an immediate impartial and exhaustive investigation by the Honduran and US governments into U.S. citizen Richard Swasey and the Delta Security and Setech private security companies operating in Honduras.
Sincerely,
TYPE IN YOUR NAME

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Subject: HONDURAS: Assassination of human rights lawyer Dionisio Garcia
Date: Mon, 11 Dec 2006 13:44:21 -0500

HONDURAS: Assassination of human rights lawyer Dionisio Garcia (December 8, 2006)

Below: two articles by the Comité por la Libre Expresión (C-Libre) of Honduras, translated to english by Rights Action, in which they denounce the assassination this Monday, December 4, 2006, of Honduran lawyer and human rights activist Dionisio Garcia, and ongoing death threats against other activists who had been working with him.

We urge you to write letters to Honduran authorities and diplomatic officials (addresses at the end of this message) denouncing these worrisome human rights violations.

We urge you to make tax-deductible donations to Rights Action so that we can continue to fund and support community development, human rights and environmental leaders in Honduras, and elsewhere.

Please re-distribute this info far’n'wide. If you want on-off this elist: e-mail,

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ASSOCIATION FOR A MORE JUST SOCIETY – ASJ. Dionisio Garcia worked with the ASJ, a Honduran human rights organization, and was assassinated in traffic on his way to present three lawsuits against two Honduras based private security companies, Delta Security and SETECH.

Garcia and four other member of this team received death threats over the past few months. The threats began after US Citizen and principal owner of the two security companies, Richard Swasey, in the company of other men associated with the companies, attempted to force entry into ASJ offices.

The assassination of this outstanding human rights lawyer is particularly disturbing given that he was challenging human rights violations committed by private security companies contracted by the Honduran government to provide policing activities for the population of Honduras.

The ASJ is an organization with Christian roots working on a variety of social justice issues in Honduras. ASJ coordinates investigative journalism into issues of interest to the Honduran public and social movement, publishing their findings in the online Revistazo zine (www.revistazo.com). ASJ also provides legal support and accompaniment to community organizations and workers – most recently to fast food company workers and private security company employees. ASJ has also been actively accompanying the marginal neighbourhood associations fighting for their urban land rights in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula while reporting on the irregularities and abuses committed in these regions by the World Bank-financed Honduran Lands Administration Program (PATH), which has been repeatedly denounced by the Fraternal Black Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH). ASJ also supported the Civic Council of Grassroots and Indigenous Organizations (COPINH) political prisoners (now freed) of Montana Verde, reporting on their case.

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URGENT ACTION: LAWYER ASSASSINATED; THREATS CONTINUE AGAINST ASJ JOURNALISTS AND STAFF IN HONDURAS

(Tegucigalpa, Honduras, December 8, 2006) The intimidations against four journalists and staff of the Association for a More Just Society (ASJ), a non-governmental organization in charge of the publication of online digital media Revistazo.com, continued again this Thursday when the organization’s President Carlos Hernández was threatened.

Hernández was also followed by an unknown individual riding a motorcycle for two hours this Thursday, when he was leaving the post office in downtown Tegucigalpa. At the same time, he received a message in English on his cellular phone, warning his that he would be the next victim because he is the head of the organization.

This threat prompted Hernández to formally denounce the situation to the National Human Rights Commissioner, whose director Dr. Ramón Custodio said that the institution would work as hard as possible because ‘I don’t want to have weighing on my conscience risking the life of anyone; people’s lives have already been lost in this country’.

A week ago, a similar text as the one sent to ASJ’s director had been sent, also in English, to ASJ lawyer Dionisio García, who was murdered on his way to the Supreme Court in the Honduran capital this past Monday, December 4, by unknown assassins riding a motorcycle. García was a lawyer advising investigative journalism into the operations of private security companies in the country, especially of Delta Security and its subsidiary Setech, whose main stockholder is U.S. citizen Richard Swasey.

García, together with journalists DINA Meza (ASJ projects coordinator), Robert Marín García, Claudia Mendoza and Rosa Morazán, have all been receiving threats, and have been followed and intimidated since September as a result of their investigations into Delta Security and Setech.

In García’s case, he was brutally murdered, without, as of today, any response or action from the government.

The journalism of the ASJ’s Revistazo.com team followed workers’ demands against Setech and Delta Security. This Friday, in paid advertisements in written and electronic media, Setech deplored the murder of García and at the same time rejected the accusations that the company is the principal intellectual author behind the crime, according to public statements made by ASJ leaders and staff.

Faced with these mentions and accusations, our administration has decided to place our Legal Department at the disposal of judicial and police institutions for any collaboration required to clarify the case and find  those truly responsible for this crime that has been linked to us. We emphasize that our board members have always sought conciliation based on the respect of workers’ rights, lending all collaboration necessary with State institutions in the cases promoted by ASJ journalists in favour of the security guards in general, outlined the communiqué.

According to Setech, the links that have been made between the company and Dionisio García’s murder are declarations,with bad intentions by journalists and executives’ of the NGO ASJ.

Since the murder of lawyer Dionisio García, the ASJ journalists have been forced to take security precautions because they have been subject to anonymous phone calls and threats. Some of them have had visits from
suspicious people to their homes, some of which, strangely, have been subject to [break and entries] in the last week.

International organizations, such as Amnesty International, the Rapporteur for the Freedom of Expression and the Commission on Mercenaries of the United Nations, have been informed of the case and the threats against the four ASJ journalists and staff. At the same time, Honduran human rights organization COFADEH publicly asked Honduran President Manuel Zelaya to guarantee and protect the lives of ASJ journalists and members.

COFADEH even sent a note to the Ministry of Security requesting the suspension of Delta Security and Setech’s licenses on the grounds of strong indicators as to their involvement in the murder of lawyer García and the threats and persecution of the journalists.

To date, the National Journalists, Association, the main organism grouping together the Honduran press and to which the ASJ journalists are affiliated, has yet to make a public pronouncement regarding the threats and intimidation against the organization’s colleagues and affiliates.
[This alert was prepared by the Committee for Free Expression (C-Libre), a coalition comprised of journalists ad member of civil society formed to promote and defend freedom of expression and the right to information in Honduras. The alerts are distributed via Probidad. For more information, communicate (in Spanish!) with Noé Leiva or Thelma Mejía of the Committee for Free Expression, C-Libre e-mail, buzon  e-mail, Thelma Mejia e-mail,]

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ALERT – Assassination of Lawyer Condemned (December 5, 2006).

Tegucigalpa (C-Libre).- This Tuesday representatives of social organizations condemned the killing of the lawyer Dionisio García this past Monday at the hands of two hit men which drove a motorcycle; at the same time that they demanded protection by the State for the four staff journalists of the digital magazine Revistazo.com that, with the advice of Garcia, began three months ago investigative journalism related to the activities of private security companies in Honduras.

The investigative journalists are Dina Meza, Robert Marín García, Claudia Mendoza y Rosa Morazán; all from the team of the ASJ, to which Revistazo.com belongs. The journalist Meza works as the projects coordinator for ASJ.

The lawyer Dionisio García was assassinated when he drove to the Supreme Court of Justice to present three labor suits against the private security companies Delta Security y Setech, whose principal owner is US citizen Richard Swasey, and who, according to the denouncements of the social communicators, had established a defamation and intimidation campaign against them and the ASJ. The lawsuits to be presented were a product of the investigative journalism undertaken by the team of Revistazo.com.

In the public communiqué released in a press conference accompanied by numerous social, aid,  humanitarian, and freedom of expression organizations, and the Bar Association of Honduras, the Direction of ASJ condemned the “atrocious crime which occurred against our friend and colleague Dionisio García, who had unusual visits from Richard Swasey, the chief of operations of Setech, Róger Medina López and other individuals that did not want to identify themselves but claimed to be lawyers’.

In this visit in September of 2006, Swasey attempted to enter the installations of the organization using force, but was impeded by the lawyer Garcia and the journalists of the organization. Beginning at that time, according to ASJ, all the personnel were the followed, received anonymous phone calls and warnings of death and intimidations.

In the case of the lawyer Garcia, a week ago he received an anonymous message on his cellular phone, written in English, which stated that he would be killed. Surprised by the message the lawyer went to the Committee of Relatives of the Detained-Disappeared in Honduras (Cofadeh), a human rights organization, to present testimony, and a week later he was killed by two hit men.

Meanwhile the journalists Robert Marín García, Dina Meza, Claudia Mendoza y Rosa Morazán, have been followed, had their photographs taken, received anonymous messages and in the case of the social communicator Marvin Garcia, he was warned a month ago that they know where his family lived, and the work hours and recreation habits of the whole family. ‘We have you well watched’, they warned.

Bertha Oliva, coordinator of COFADEH, was deeply affected by the assassination of Garcia, and asked in the press conference that those who attended meet the four threatened journalists so ‘that they see their faces and carve them in their memory in case something happened to them, because today in this country, we are all threatened, because no authority can tell us they did not know about these threats and they were warned in time and responsibly’, she stated.

Oliva said they were tired of going to the national authorities to call attention to the case and its gravity, so they alerted the international agencies like the high Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations, the Mercenaries mandate of the United Nations, the Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the United Nations, other external agencies.

“We did all that was within our reach, believe me we did! But it pains us in the soul to know that even so we could not save the life of Dionisio. Today we ask the state of Honduras and the government of Manuel Zelaya to provide protection for the four journalists.” President Zelaya is on a tour of Europe, his 27th trip according to local press.

The team of Revistazo.com, over the last three months investigated the activities of two private security companies, Delta Security y SETECH, both property of the same owner, and both apparently use influence trafficking to obtain contracts with the State, and also violate the labor rights of their workers.
For these investigations, the journalists were sued for libel, but the Supreme Court rejected the suit for incongruities and lack of legal arguments, which resulted three weeks ago in the increase of intimidations against the journalists and the lawyer Dionisio Garcia through virtual forums and anonymous messages on the internet.

This Tuesday COFADEH sent a letter to the Minister of Security, Álvaro Romero, requesting that he suspend the license of operations of Delta Security and Setech, for being involved in the suspicious assassination of   Dionisio Ramos and threats and intimidations against the journalists of Revistazo.com and for supposed irregularities in the form of operation and the constant labor and human rights violations of their employees in this country.

In Honduras, more then a hundred private security companies operate legally and more at the margin of the law, employing thousands of armed men. In August of 2006, at the request of Manuel Zelaya, private security companies began to be incorporated – in a ’selective process’ – to the security operations that the State is carrying out against crime, according to humanitarian organizations.

State functionaries of the Ministry of Security have declared their impotent in controlling their private security agencies, the majority of which operate through the trafficking of influenced and violate the labor rights of their employees.

Comité por la Libre Expresión (C-Libre), a coalition of journalists and member of civil society created to promote and defend the liberty of expression and the right to information in Honduras. For more information comunicate [in Spanish!] with Noé Leiva ó Thelma Mejía, c-libre e-mail, buzon e-mail, Thelma Mejia e-mail.

WHAT TO DO: Send brief letters to the authorities, listed below, expressing your concern at the December 4 murder of human rights lawyer Dionisio García, demanding that the crime be investigated and those found responsible be brought to justice, requesting that the Honduran government take the necessary steps to provide immediate protection for threatened ASJ journalists Robert Marín García, Dina Meza, Claudia Mendoza and Rosa Morazán, as well as ASJ president Carlos Hernández, soliciting an immediate impartial and exhaustive investigation by the Honduran and US governments into U.S. citizen Richard Swasey and the Delta Security and Setech private security companies operating in Honduras.

CANADIANS:
Honduran Embassy in Canada: tel. (613) 233-9800, fax (613) 232-0913, e-mail,
Canadian Embassy in Honduras: tel. (504) 232-4551, fax (504) 239-7767, e-mail,

USA-ians:
Honduran Embassy in DC: tel. (202) 966-7702, fax (202) 966-9751, e-mail,
US Embassy in Honduras: tel. (504) 236-9320 or 238-5114, fax (504) 237-1792;

HONDURAN GOVT AUTHORITIES:

Señor MANUEL ZELAYA ROSALES
Presidente de la República de Honduras
Casa Presidencial
Boulevard Juan Pablo Segundo
Palacio José Cecilio del Valle
Tegucigalpa, Honduras
Fax: (504) 2214552

Abogado
LEONIDAS ROSA BAUTISTA
Fiscal General del Estado
Ministerio Público
Lomas del Guijarro, Tegucigalpa, Honduras
Fax: (504) 221-56-67, E-mail.

Doctor RAMON CUSTODIO LOPEZ
Comisionado Nacional de Derechos Humanos
Boulevard Suyapa, antiguo Edificio de Cannon, E-mail.

Send copies of all letters to COFADEH: e-mail.

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