Monday, January 28, 2013

US Embassy: Full Response to Honduran Gay Bar Raid

 Erick Vidal Martinez

 Jose "Pepe" Palacios

Longtime human rights advocate, and my friend, Charlie Hinton of the Bay Area Latin American Solidarity Coalition received this reply today from Nathan Anderson, who is the human rights attache at the American embassy in Tegucigalpa. Charlie asked what was being done about the recent gay bar raid and other LGBT human rights matters in Honduras. Here is Anderson's note:

I appreciate your e-mail and want to assure you that the Embassy shares your concern about the police raid of Anubis and the ensuing violence. I spoke to Erick Martinez and Jose “Pepe” Palacios of “Movimiento de Diversidad en Resistencia” (MDR) on the evening of January 12 at a reception at the Ambassador’s residence and was shocked to learn what happened later that night. 

The Embassy has expressed its concern about the incident with the appropriate Honduran governmental institutions and has called for a thorough investigation of the event. The Ambassador publically offered her concerns on her social media Twitter account. It is our understanding that the National Police are working in conjunction with the Secretariat for Justice and Human Rights and National Ombudsman for Human Rights in this investigation. 

As with all credible allegations of human rights violations, we will continue to monitor the investigation into this case working with Honduran government officials and civil society. 

The Embassy is actively engaged with the LGBT rights community in Honduras. The Ambassador regularly meets with members of the LGBT community and talks about LGBT rights as well as other human rights in both her public statements and in private meetings with high level government officials. 

The Embassy has supported the development of human rights training that is now mandatory for all incoming police officers and encouraged the development of LGBT specific training that is now being implemented by the Secretariat of Security. Additionally, the Embassy supports the Honduran Special Victims Unit (SVU) through the Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI) program. The SVU investigates and prosecutes cases of the murders of vulnerable groups including the LGBT community. 

With the help of U.S. prosecutorial and investigative advisors, the SVU has arrested 19 people and won 2 convictions since its founding in 2011. In the history of the Ministerio Publico (equivalent of the Attorney General’s office) there had previously been only 2 arrests of members of the LGBT community. In a country where impunity is the norm, the SVU has become the most effective prosecutorial unit in the Honduran Public Ministry. 

We are also encouraged by the regular meetings between leaders in the LGBT community and police and prosecutors, but acknowledge that much more needs to be done. 

Many thanks to Charlie for writing to Anderson, and to Anderson for his detailed note.  Previously I've reported on the raid, the ambassador's tweet and the apology from the National Police along with photos of the raid.

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