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Honduras: Ensure People Can Vote Without Fear Or Coercion – Bachelet

GENEVA (23 November 2021) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Tuesday expressed her deep concern about political violence in Honduras, which has already claimed 29 lives, and called on the authorities to ensure an environment conducive to holding peaceful, transparent and genuine elections.

Honduras will hold local, general and presidential elections on Sunday, 28 November, in an extremely tense and polarized context, in which serious attacks and other forms of violence have been documented.

Since primary elections were called in September 2020, the UN Human Rights Office in Honduras has recorded 63 cases of political violence, including 29 killings, 14 attacks, 12 instances of aggressive behaviour, as well as seven people directly threatened and one kidnapped.

“I am deeply worried by what we are witnessing in Honduras. The elections are yet to take place but political violence is already at disturbing levels. I condemn all acts of violence and call on all actors to convey their opinions and grievances in a peaceful manner. Violence is not, and should never be, the answer,” Bachelet said.

Some political figures have also widely used hate speech as a political tool, including against people defending women’s sexual and reproductive rights, leading in some cases to discrimination and violence. “Hate speech has no place in a democracy,” the High Commissioner stressed.

The UN Human Rights Chief called for prompt, thorough, impartial and effective investigations into all acts of political violence, with a view to holding those responsible accountable.

Bachelet also raised her concerns regarding shrinking civic space in the country, with members of civil society and human rights defenders regularly harassed, persecuted and attacked. So far this year, the Office in Honduras has recorded 240 attacks against human rights defenders and journalists.

Bachelet highlighted the crucial role of human rights defenders in a democracy and underscored her concerns regarding recent legal reforms, which risk curbing the right to peaceful protest and could potentially worsen the current situation.

The UN Human Rights Chief stressed the importance of all those involved in the electoral process adopting measures to avoid a repeat of the events in 2017, when serious human rights violations were committed in the context of post-election protests.

The High Commissioner urged the authorities to ensure Hondurans are able to exercise their right to political participation without fear or discrimination.

“People in Honduras have the right to vote in peace and elect their leaders without feeling insecure, coerced or afraid. I count on all involved to commit to this,” Bachelet said.

The UN Human Rights Office in Honduras will continue to support all actors to uphold human rights in the country.

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