On 7 October 2013, a delegation of 10 Swiss people from the Honduras Forum Switzerland (Foro Honduras Suiza) called a press conference at COFADEH’s offices to share the findings of their visit to Honduras, the aim of which was to learn about the human rights situation and democracy in the country. Their mission lasted eight days and included trips to Zacate Grande in the south and La Esperanza in the west, as well as meetings with representatives of civil society and international and national organizations. The delegation had the opportunity to hear the testimonies of victims of human rights violations and their families, and the degree of almost total impunity regarding these violations.
The organizations they met emphasized the importance of an international presence, including visits by delegations and PROAH’s accompaniment, for the respect of human rights.
The Forum delegation’s demands to the Honduran authorities include an immediate halt to the criminalization and persecution of human rights defenders, and respect for international human rights conventions, with specific reference to indigenous rights when granting concessions. It also calls for the Honduran authorities to make every effort to ensure free and fair elections, with international observers given unrestricted access to observe the process, and for their work to be supported.
The delegation requests that the international community work towards establishing guarantees that foreign investors respect human rights and particularly the rights of indigenous peoples. It also asks for the situation before and after the elections to be subject to rigorous scrutiny and that any possible human rights violations be documented and publicised.
For the first time, from January to June 2014, Switzerland will have the presidency of the G-16, the group of countries and intergovernmental institutions established in 1999 after Hurricane Mitch, whose objectives include the promotion of human development in Honduras and an increase in democratic participation. The Forum requests that the Swiss Government take this opportunity to put democratization and the human rights situation at the top of its agenda.
Honduras Forum Switzerland was founded in 2012 to raise awareness among the Swiss population about the situation in Honduras, and to advocate for the respect of human rights and an equitable relationship between the two countries. Today the Forum has about 25 members involved in various projects. It works with other groups, organizations and networks with similar aims in Switzerland, Honduras and other countries.
See the Forum’s press statement: