Human rights defenders in Honduras accused by military of misinformation campaign

February 22, 2013

On 18 February 2013, a number of human rights defenders and civil society organisations were publicly accused of carrying out a “well orchestrated campaign of disinformation” and of publishing defamatory and false material on a military task force in the Aguán region, “damaging the image of the nation”. The allegations were made during a press conference convened by the Commander of the Joint Task Force “Xatruch III” German Antonio Alfaro Escalante.

During the press conference, the Plataforma Agraria Regional del Aguán (Regional Agricultural Platform of Aguán) and human rights defenders Messrs Wilfredo Paz, Vitalino Alvarez, Yoni Rivas and Marvín Palacios were accused of publishing false accusations regarding Xatruch III through online networks and international human rights organisations. The websites and were each accused of publishing material accusing the Task Force of intimidating, threatening and killing people  Colón. Commander Alfaro Escalante also referred to the human rights organisation Comité para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos en Honduras

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– CODEH stating that on 21 January 2013, CODEH published a communication which accused Xatruch III of imposing a so-called “war tax” on farmers for the transport of stolen African palm. The Military Commander ended the press conference by referring to those he named as a minority sector who are intent on “creating constant problems irrespective of laws and legally established institutions, provoking instability and insecurity”. He further claimed that such accusations had led to him receiving threatening phone messages from outside of the country. The accusations against the abovementioned human rights defenders come in a context of a deterioration in trust between human rights defenders and the authorities as a result of forced evictions, arbitrary detentions and harassment of the largely campesino community. Front Line Defendersexpresses concern at the defamatory accusations made by Commander German Antonio Alfaro Escalante against numerous human rights defenders and civil society organisations, and believes these accusations to be directly motivated by their legitimate and peaceful work in defending human rights, including their exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.

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