Letter re: Murder of Honduran Carlos Mejía Orellana
Letter to Hon. John Baird
Minister of Foreign Affairs
We the undersigned are outraged and deeply saddened by the news of the murder of Carlos Mejía Orellana on April 11, 2014, a journalist and marketing director of Radio Progreso, a Jesuit community-based radio station in El Progreso, Honduras. We would like to express our deepest condolences to Carlos’ family members, friends and colleagues. Our thoughts and prayers are with all who are mourning this senseless death.
Following the coup d’état in 2009, Carlos and other Radio Progreso employees have been targets of repeated death threats because of their commitment to journalistic and social expression, and documentation of abuses of power and impunity. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has repeatedly granted precautionary measures to 16 staff members of Radio Progreso, including Mejía Orellana, due to persistent threats against them. The Director of Radio Progreso, Father Ismael “Melo” Moreno, SJ testified before the U.S. Congress at the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission and described the constant death threats and attacks perpetrated with impunity against journalists in Honduras, including against Radio Progreso, its employees and its research arm, ERIC.
Since last spring, Canadian parliamentarians have heard disturbing testimony about the deteriorating human rights situation in Honduras in the Parliamentary Subcommittee on International Human Rights. Given the level of threats and violence, including assassination, targeted against journalists, the media and freedom of expression in Honduras, we are dismayed and disturbed that the Government of Honduras has failed to implement protective measures for the employees of Radio Progreso, as called for by the IACHR.
Honduras is one of the Western Hemisphere’s most dangerous places for the media. Death threats are often carried out and impunity prevails. Honduras continues to have the highest murder rate in the world (90.4/100,000) according the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
We ask the Canadian government to call on the Honduran authorities to immediately implement protective measures ordered by the IACHR and to carry out a thorough investigation into the murder of Carlos Mejía Orellana, to find those responsible for this heinous act and bring them to justice in a timely manner.
Further, in consideration of continuing human rights abuses in Honduras, we ask that the Canadian Parliament, oppose and/or withdraw all support to Bill C-20, the Canada-Honduras Economic Growth and Prosperity Act, and do all that is necessary to ensure that it does not become the law of the land.
Testimony provided by esteemed human rights defender Bertha Oliva, General Coordinator of the Committee of Relatives of the Disappeared and Detained in Honduras (COFADEH), in the Standing Committee on International Trade on April 8, 2014 emphasizes that the trade deal risks exacerbating human rights violations such as this, in Honduras.
Thank you for your time and attention.
Alternatives Americas Policy Group (APG), Canadian Council for International Cooperation (CCIC)
Association québécoise des organismes de coopération internationale (AQOCI)
Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network
British Colombia Teachers Federation
Canadian Jesuits International (CJI)
Centre justice et foi
Comité pour les droits humains en Amérique latine (CDHAL)
Horizons of Friendship
Jesuit Forum for Social Faith and Justice
Latin American and Caribbean Solidarity Network (LACSN)
Mining Injustice Solidarity Network (MISN)
Maquila Solidarity Network
Mary Ward Centre
Mer et Monde
Mr. Tyler Shipley, Sessional Lecturer, Humber College
cc: Wendy Drukier, Ambassador, Canadian Embassy in Honduras