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Activist receives death threat

AI-Index: AMR 37/001/2013

On 22 January, Honduran lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights activist Patricio Vindel, received a death threat. His life is at risk.

Patricio Vindel is the executive director of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organization OPROUCE – La Ceiba’s Pro-Union Organization (Organización Pro-Unión Ceibeña) – in northern Honduras. The group works on HIV prevention and raises awareness about human rights of the local LGBT community.

On 22 January, the staff of OPROUCE were away from the office for a workshop. While the office was empty, unknown individuals broke into the yard outside the office and spray painted a message on the wall saying “Patricio you’re going to die” (“Patricio vas a morir”).

Patricio Vindel immediately reported the incident to the Human Rights Ombudsman (National Human Rights Commission, Comisionado Nacional de Derechos Humanos CONADEH) and the police. The police visited OPROUCE’s office during the afternoon of the same day and took evidence. On 21 January, a suspicious vehicle without a licence plate was seen passing by the office several times throughout the afternoon.

Prior to this incident, during August through to October 2012, Patricio Vindel received several threatening text messages. In these messages, the sender made reference to Patricio Vindel’s sexual orientation in a derogatory manner, and said that they knew where he lived and that someone would be sent to kill him.

Additional Information

Amnesty International issued an open letter to the Honduran government in May 2012, expressing deep concern at the sharp increase in attacks and threats against journalists and human rights defenders in Honduras, and urging the authorities to take urgent steps to address the situation. The organization has not yet received a reply.

In February 2012, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders – following a visit to Honduras – said that human rights defenders continue to suffer death threats, attacks, harassment and stigmatization and urged the authorities to urgently establish a protection programme for defenders. The Rapporteur identified certain groups of defenders in Honduras, including LGBT, as being particularly vulnerable.

LGBT people face violence and discrimination throughout the Americas because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, as Amnesty International affirmed in December 2012 in the report “Transforming Pain into Hope – Human Rights Defenders in the Americas”.

In 2011, Honduran LGBT defender Alex David Sánchez Álvarez was threatened and physically attacked three times in January and June. Alex Dávid Sánchez Álvarez is very active in the LGBT community, working and volunteering for a number of LGBT and human rights organization in Honduras.

In a case documented by Amnesty International in December 2009, LGBT human rights activist Walter Trochez was murdered in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. Nine days earlier, he had escaped after being abducted by several masked men demanding the names and addresses of members of the movement opposing the coup d’etat. His captors reportedly told him they had orders to kill him. The investigations on this case have not resulted in indictments or convictions.

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