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Take Action for Nelson García

Status: Killed


Nelson García


Sr. Embajador Giampaolo Carmelo Rizzo Alvarado
Misión Permanente de Honduras ante las Naciones Unidas en Ginebra
Avenue de France 23
1202 Geneva


+41 22 710 07 66

Your Excellency,

On 15 March 2016 human rights defender Mr Nelson García was killed in the aftermath of a violent eviction conducted in Río Lindo, Department of Cortés, Honduras.

The human rights defender was a member of Consejo Civico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras – COPINH (Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organisations of Honduras). COPINH has been active for over 20 years campaigning for the defence of the territory and rights of the Lenca people and the organisation has led fierce campaigns against illegal logging and mega-projects for their detrimental effects on the rights of indigenous peoples in the country.

The human rights defender was returning home following a violent eviction conducted by the Public Order Military Police (Policía Militar de Orden Público) and the Cobras Special Force (Comando Especial Cobras) in the municipality of Río Lindo when he was intercepted by unidentified men who shot him in the face four times and killed him.

The assassination of Nelson García happens less than two weeks after the killing of prominent COPINH leader, Ms Berta Cáceres, on 3 March 2016 and only eight days after the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued precautionary measures for all members of COPINH. Both crimes happened in a context of escalating violence against human rights defenders in Honduras, particularly those who work on environmental, indigenous peoples' and land rights, repeating and aggravating a trend constantly highlighted by national and international organizations, as stated by Front Line Defenders 2016 Annual Report.

According to members of COPINH there has been an escalation in the threats and harassment of its members and other human rights defenders working on the same issues since Berta Cáceres' assassination. Many of COPINH's members and Berta's relatives have reported incidents such as police and judicial harassment, among other forms of intimidation.

I strongly condemn the killing of human rights defender Nelson García. I am deeply concerned at the increasingly extreme levels of violence faced by human rights defenders in Honduras and the targeting of those working on environmental, indigenous peoples' and land rights. Further concern is expressed about the permanence of a clear trend of killings of human rights defenders in the country and of impunity for the perpetrators.

I urge the authorities in Honduras to:

  1. Strongly condemn the killing of human rights defender Nelson Garcia;
  2. Carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the killing of Nelson García, with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;
  3. Take all necessary measures, in consultation with the human rights defenders, to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of all members of COPINH and those working in Honduras for the defence of environmental, indigenous peoples' and land rights;
  4. Implement the necessary measures to prevent the recurrence of these abuses;
  5. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Honduras are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.