On April 11, unidentified assailants stabbed Carlos Mejía to death in his home in Yoro, Honduras. Mejía was the marketing director of Radio Progreso and a member of the Reflection, Investigation and Communication Team (Equipo de Reflexión, Investigación y Comunicación, ERIC). Both Radio Progeso and ERIC are Jesuit organizations known for their work defending human rights in Honduras.
The first step to ending impunity is a thorough investigation that correctly identifies the culprits so that they can be tried and punished. Why, then, did Honduran police announce that they had decided to pursue a narrow investigation focusing on “someone close to Sr. Mejia?”
Today, Amnesty International released its annual report on the use of the death penalty worldwide. Although 2013 saw more executions than in previous years and several countries resuming executions, there was also progress towards abolition in all regions of the world. Below, see the top 10 things you need to know from our newest report:
Witnesses stand by the car of television journalist Antonio ‘Tony’ Quintero in Honduras. Quinteros was attacked in his car by gunmen and was seriously wounded, whilst a friend who accompanied him died in the attack. In the last four years, some 33 journalist have been murdered in Honduras (Photo Credit: Orlando Sierra/AFP/Getty Images).
A group of 33 Central American women traveling in a caravan across Mexico in search of migrant relatives (Photo Credit: Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images).
By Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General
The scrub-lands and desert in Mexico’s northern state of Coahuila are the last stop for Central American migrants before attempting to cross the border into the USA.
By the time they reach Saltillo, Coahuila’s capital, they have made a perilous journey of nearly 2,000 kilometers. Along the way, many of these men, women and children suffer assaults, robbery and abduction by criminal gangs. There are also reports of extortion and ill-treatment by police and immigration officials. Tragically, some migrants are killed before they even get this far.
The execution of Edgar Arias Tamayo raises issues of fundamental fairness and a willingness to comply with obligations bigger than state law (Photo Credit: NationalJournal.com).
By Andrea Hall, Mid Atlantic Regional Death Penalty Abolition Coordinator
How much is it worth to keep executions moving forward? What is the price of our machinery of death? In addition to the expense that is above and beyond keeping a prisoner jailed for life, there are the intangibles – the toll on the families of both the victims and the condemned, as well as on the prison staff, and the cost of perpetuating the cycle of violence in our society.
In the case of Edgar Arias Tamayo, executed tonight in Texas, the price may be much higher. We may very well have put our relationships with foreign countries, as well as the safety of Americans living and traveling overseas, at risk.
Sex workers wait for customers in Honduras. Honduras now has the highest per capita murder rate in the world and its capital city, Tegucigalpa, is plagued by violence, poverty, homelessness and sexual assaults (Photo Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images).
Ian Lekus of Amnesty USA’s LGBT Human Rights Cogroup contributed to this post.
Despite the fact that sex work is legal in Honduras, many groups and individuals view their actions as immoral. Those who murder sex workers believe they can literally treat these human beings as garbage to be disposed of. Such violence takes place against the broader backdrop of widespread gender- and sexuality-based violence that imperils women and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) persons all through Honduras.
Four years ago, a devastating earthquake struck the Caribbean island of Haiti, leaving an estimated 200,000 people dead and more than 2 million homeless. It was a disaster on an almost unprecedented scale. And, for a country already wracked by poverty with so many institutional weaknesses, it was a complete catastrophe.
By Natalie Butz, Communications Specialist at Amnesty International USA
It’s rare Amnesty activists get a moment to stop and take a breath. But with the start of a new year comes the opportunity to take stock of the progress we’ve made and the successes we helped accomplish in 2013. There’s still much to be done, but we hope the list below will help inspire all of us in the year to come:
Yorm Bopha was 29 when she was arrested on September 4, 2012 on spurious charges. She is a prominent activist from the Boeung Kak Lake community who is facing up to five years’ imprisonment if found guilty at her trial. She is a prisoner of conscience (Photo Credit: Jenny Holligan).
1. In 52 years, Amnesty International activists have helped free tens of thousands of Prisoners of Conscience around the world. In 2013, we continued that trend. Human rights activists freed this year included Yorm Bopha in Cambodia, Kartam Joga in India, Filipino poet Ericson Acosta, Yemeni journalist Abdul Ilah Haydar Shayi’ and Iranian human rights attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh.
January 11, 2014 will mark the 12th anniversary of Guantanamo. On that day, Amnesty International will be protesting in front of the White House, calling for President Obama to speed up transfers and close the detention facility.
Amnesty activists have campaigned for many, many years to resolve the cases of the 22 Uighurs who have been held at Guantanamo.
The transfer of the last three Uighurs is a milestone in the process of closing the detention facility. There are now 155 detainees at Guantanamo, 76 of those are cleared for transfer. 11 detainees were transferred in 2013.