Press Release

IACHR Condemns Attack on LGBTI Rights Defender David Valle, in Honduras

August 9, 2017

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Washington, D.C. — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the attempt on the life of David Valle, a defender of the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and intersex persons (LGBTI) in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. The Commission calls on Honduras to adopt specific measures to effectively and diligently address the pattern of violence against LGBTI human rights defenders.

According to information received by the Commission, on July 10, 2017, LGBTI rights defender David Valle was attacked in his home in Tegucigalpa by an unidentified man with a bladed weapon and sustained serious injuries to many parts of his body. The attack happened after David Valle had asked for protective measures from the Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders in Honduras, because of threats he had reportedly received and the dangerous situation he faces because of his work as an LGTBI human rights defender. According to this information, the only measure that had been implemented as part of the protection scheme provided by the national protection mechanism was the installation of camera equipment in his office, headquarters for the organization Centro para la Cooperación y Desarrollo LGBTI – Somos CDC.

The IACHR takes note of the investigation into the case being carried out by the Attorney General’s Office of Honduras and urges the authorities to conduct this investigation effectively and with due diligence to clarify the motives and circumstances behind the attack on David Valle’s life and to identify and punish the individuals who prove to be responsible.

The Inter-American Commission has been following several cases involving violence against LGBTI rights defenders in Honduras, including the killing of Paola Barraza, a trans human rights defender and member of the executive board of Asociación LGTB Arcoíris, and the killing of René Martínez, an LGBT rights defender in San Pedro Sula. The Commission urges the Honduran authorities to adopt effective prevention, investigation, and punishment measures to address this pattern of violence. According to information published by civil society organizations, there have been 269 killings of LGBTI persons recorded in Honduras since 2015.

The IACHR calls to mind that the work of human rights defenders is essential for building and strengthening a solid and lasting democratic society and that defenders play a leading role in pursuing the full attainment of the rule of law. The IACHR has received multiple complaints involving violations against LGBTI rights defenders, who are reportedly subjected to constant attacks and harassment by groups that discriminate against them. The Commission observes that LGBTI rights defenders are more vulnerable to acts of violence due to a combination of factors related to the perception of their sexual orientation and gender identity; their role as rights defenders; and the issues they support and advocate for, as these challenge traditional social structures around sexuality and gender that are deeply rooted in the dominant cultures of the countries in the region.

The IACHR calls to mind that States have an obligation to ensure the safety of human rights defenders by adopting specific measures for their protection, given that they are particularly vulnerable.

“The Honduran State must move to adopt legislative measures and public policies to provide effective protection to LGBTI rights defenders, and take all necessary steps to safeguard their right to life, integrity, and safety,” said Commissioner Francisco Eguiguren Praeli, IACHR Rapporteur on the Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Persons.

The IACHR Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Commissioner José de Jesús Orozco, said policies must include “the implementation of a comprehensive program to protect human rights defenders, one that takes into consideration the specific risk factors to which LGBTI rights defenders are exposed, for example through special protocols.” He added, “The protection measures adopted must also combat the risk factors behind the violence against human rights defenders, in order to guarantee that conditions are in place so that LGBTI rights defenders in Honduras can freely carry out their important work of defending human rights.”

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 118/17