Constitutional Law

UN Leader Cites Murders of 2 Honduran Lawyers in 3 Days, Says 'Chronic Insecurity' Harms Profession

The human rights chief of the United Nations on Wednesday called for Honduras to take urgent and aggressive action to deal with what she called “chronic insecurity” facing lawyers and journalists after the murders of two lawyers in a three-day period within the last week.

The Honduran Bar Association says 74 lawyers have been killed within the last three years without an adequate government response, according to a U.N. press release today in which Navi Pillay, who serves as the high commissioner for human rights, calls for action.

“Sadly, these deplorable killings are far from isolated cases,” Pillay said in the release. “There is a menacing climate of insecurity and violence in Honduras, and human rights defenders have been targets of threats, harassment, physical assault and murder.”

Her comments followed the slayings of two prominent attorneys in less than a week. Civil rights lawyer Antonio Trejo-Cabrera, 41, was shot to death Saturday at a wedding. He had complained in 2011 that he had been receiving death threats, according to the Associated Press, which says U.S. authorities are helping Honduras investigate his murder. Two days later, Manuel Eduardo Díaz Mazariegos, a public prosecutor who also worked on human rights cases, was also gunned down near his office in the city of Choluteca.

“I call on the government to spare no effort in their investigations into the killings of Mr. Trejo-Cabrera and Mr. Díaz-Mazariegos, and to ensure that attacks or threats against other human rights defenders are taken seriously and promptly investigated,” Pillay said. “It is essential that the people who commit these crimes are brought to justice. Failure to do so will only exacerbate what is already a dire situation.”

Additional coverage: “Human Rights Lawyer Gunned Down at Wedding in Honduras”

Prensa Latina: “Violence Increasing in Honduras”

La Prensa de Honduras: “Sicarios en moto acribillan a fiscal Manuel Eduardo Díaz “

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