I am deeply concerned about grave human rights violations experienced by people facing criminal charges and unjust imprisonment in the aftermath of protests over the November 2017 elections in Honduras.
Edwin Róbelo Espinal is an emblematic case. He has been ordered to remain in pre-trial detention in La Tolva prison, along with persons convicted for extremely violent crimes. The legal proceedings against him are being conducted by a court with competence on a limited list of the most serious crimes, which are not the charges he faces. His right to have access to his family and lawyer has been restricted unjustifiably, as has his right to defend himself and other due process guarantees.
This is the same unjust and unacceptable situation suffered by Raúl Eduardo Ordoῆez Álvarez, also imprisoned in La Tolva.
Another emblematic case involves Jhony Salgado, who police accuse of illegally carrying a weapon and police equipment during protests at which he was not even present. He was threatened and pressured into signing a “confession” he could not read. While Mr Salgado has now been released from four months in pre-trial detention, he is still facing trumped up charges.
Such injustices give rise to perceptions that Honduras is misusing the criminal justice system to punish and discourage dissent and legitimate social protest.
I call on to you to ensure that people are able to exercise their right to freedom of expression and peaceful protest in Honduras without fear of reprisals.
In particular, I urge you to take the following concrete steps:
* Ensure the right to freedom of Edwin Róbelo Espinal, Raúl Eduardo Ordoῆez Álvarez and Jhony Salgado by immediately releasing Mr Espinal and Mr Álvarez pending timely, impartial trial; dropping the charges against Mr Salgado; and ensuring guarantees of due process for all three, in line with international standards.
* Implement an immediate, transparent review of all the procedures carried out against the three men and remedy all violations of due process without delay.