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Reps. Sires, Meeks, and 12 Colleagues Denounce Rights Violations Against Garífuna in Honduras

Jul 30, 2020
Press Release

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ) and Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Chairman and Vice Chair respectively of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Civilian Security, and Trade, led a letter with 12 of their colleagues to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, urging him to speak up on human rights and anti-corruption efforts in Honduras. The letter, which expresses alarm about the abduction on July 18th of four Garifuna leaders, urges Secretary Pompeo to reassert the United States’ interest in supporting Hondurans’ efforts to build a just, inclusive, and democratic society:

“We write to express our deep concern about the deterioration of human rights protections and the growing culture of impunity under the administration of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández,” the members wrote. “The recent kidnapping of four Garífuna leaders, reportedly by Honduran police officials, reflects the continued determination of the country’s politically powerful to prevent progress in the fight for equal justice in Honduras. The Honduran government owes the international community an explanation as to what role state officials had in these egregious violations of human rights against the Garífuna community. It must ensure immediate, independent investigations into this kidnapping and answer for the repeated and ongoing attacks against community leaders, human rights defenders, and journalists.

“We are deeply concerned that rather than pressing the Honduran authorities for accountability, the Trump Administration has been holding public photo-ops with President Hernández and lauding his assistance in implementing asylum restrictions that rely on an executive order that was struck down in U.S. federal court,” the members continued. “Trump political appointeesexpressions of unqualified support for President Hernández do not advance U.S. or Honduran interests in working toward making Honduras a place where Hondurans can imagine a future. We urge you to engage the Honduran government directly about these serious setbacks in the fight against corruption and the protection of human rights, and to recommit to using the diplomatic strength of the United States as a force for good in Honduras."

The letter was signed by Congressman Albio Sires (NJ-08), Congressman Gregory W. Meeks (NY-05), Congressman Eliot L. Engel (NY-16), Congressman James P. McGovern (MA-02), Congressman Ted Deutch (FL-22), Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Congresswoman Norma J. Torres (CA-35), Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Congressman Juan Vargas (CA-51), Congressman Dean Phillips (MN-03), Congressman Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) and Congressman Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15).

Full text of the letter can be found here