Re: Association for More Just Society (ASJ) Lawyers Face Risks to Life
To: Sr. Porfirio Lobo Sosa
From: Laura Best, LRWC
Lawyer’s Rights Watch has learned that lawyers working for the Association for More Just Society (ASJ) in Honduras face grave risks to their life stemming from their human rights work.
According to information provided by Amnesty International and Front Line, these lawyers work in ASJ’s labour rights defence project. The project seeks to protect the rights of employees in the fast food, cleaning and security businesses. In this role, ASJ lawyers have been investigating government organizations and a private security company called Technical Security of Honduras (SETECH).
SETECH has a history of intimidating and killing lawyers who investigate them.
On December 4, 2006, Dionisio Díaz García, a lawyer with ASJ, was assassinated. Following a two-year public trial, a former SETCH security guard and an agent of the National Office of Criminal Investigation (DNIC) were convicted and sentenced to prison.
In September 2010, a lawyer – who wishes to protect her identity – began investigating specific government agencies for violations of labour rights. The government agencies investigated included the Secretary of Labor and Social Welfare, the Honduran Institute for Social Security, the Office of the Prosecutor for Crimes against Women, the National Institute for Women, and the Solicitor General of the Republic.
On September 21, 2010, while carrying out inspections of records at the office of the Secretary of Labor and Social Welfare, she received warnings and threats from three different employees there. One employee warned that security companies always have hit men.
On October 19, 2010, two unknown men abducted this same lawyer who was hailing a taxi outside of ASJ offices in Tegucigalpa. The men forced her into the taxi and ordered the taxi driver to drive and follow their instructions. The men drove around the city for forty minutes with the lawyer trapped in the car. They asked whether she worked for ASJ and if she was investigating SETECH. During this time, the men also discussed the fact that they had been paid to execute her and exchanged guns between them. The men eventually released the lawyer after one had second thoughts about the murder.
On November 3, 2010, two armed men on a motorcycle threatened an ASJ lawyer.
Lawyers Rights Watch is concerned for the safety of ASJ lawyers and the intimidation aimed at thwarting their investigations.
We call on the Government of Honduras to take immediate measures to guarantee the safety of ASJ lawyers and employees. The Government must also call an immediate, full and impartial investigation into the threats and intimidation against ASJ lawyers, and ensure that all those responsible will be brought to justice.
We would greatly appreciate your government’s response to LRWC by mail, email or fax in response to these matters and of all the actions taken by your government to address these ongoing threats to ASJ lawyers. We look forward to hearing from you at the earliest possible time.