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Jan-24-2014 13:39printcomments

Honduras: Killing of Human Rights Defender and Indigenous Lenca leader Mr Justo Sorto

Human Rights Ambassador for Salem-News.com, William Nicholas Gomes roundly condemns the killing of Justo Sorto, which is related to his peaceful and legitimate work in the defence of the environmental rights of the indigenous Lenca community.

Human Rights Ambassador for Salem-News.com, William Nicholas Gomes
Human Rights Ambassador for Salem-News.com, William Nicholas Gomes

(WASHINGTON, DC) - On 21 January 2014, the indigenous Lenca leader and human rights defender, Mr Justo Sorto, was found dead on a farming estate of the Yance community in the municipality of Jesús de Otoro, in the department of Intibucá, Western Honduras. Justo Sorto was an active member for twenty years of the Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Indígenas Populares – COPINH (Civic Council of Popular Indigenous Organisations). The human rights defender was killed by several gunshots from a high-calibre weapon. There were three gunshot wounds to his body; in the head, the chest and the right thumb.

COPINH is an organisation that works for the defence of the land and the environment, and for improving the living conditions of communities and indigenous peoples in Honduras. Justo Sorto was a prominent leader of an indigenous Lenca community who lives in the west of the country. That community works for the defence of its forests and against the execution of mining projects in the region. He was a founding member of the Coordinadora Indígena del Poder Popular de Honduras – CIPPH (Co-ordinator of Indigenous Peoples' Power of Honduras) and the Movimiento Morazanista del Poder Popular – MMP (Morazanist Movement of Popular Power).

Justo Sorto had been detained by police on various occasions for his participation in the taking of roads while campaigning for the expulsion of lumber dealers who were destroying the forests in which the Lenca community lives, in the departments of Lempira, Intibucá and Santa Barbara. He also spearheaded many projects, amongst them the struggle against the Tigre dam which was to be constructed on the border between Honduras and El Salvador. A CIPPH-MMP delegation has been sent to the Yance community in Jesús de Otoro to accompany the family in the burial of Justo Sorto.

Human Rights Ambassador for Salem-News.com, William Nicholas Gomes roundly condemns the killing of Justo Sorto, which is related to his peaceful and legitimate work in the defence of the environmental rights of the indigenous Lenca community. William Nicholas Gomes expresses its profound concern for the physical and psychological integrity of the family of Justo Sorto as well as that of all other human rights defenders working in Honduras, particularly those who defend land and environmental rights.

S.E. Presidente Porfirio Lobo Sosa
Oficina del Presidente
Casa Presidencial
Barrio Las Lomas
Boulevard Juan Pablo II
Tegucigalpa
Honduras
Fax +504 2290 5088
info@presidencia.gob.hn

Your Excellency,

I am William Nicholas Gomes, Human Rights Ambassador for Salem-News.com.

On 21 January 2014, the indigenous Lenca leader and human rights defender, Mr Justo Sorto, was found dead on a farming estate of the Yance community in the municipality of Jesús de Otoro, in the department of Intibucá, Western Honduras. Justo Sorto was an active member for twenty years of the Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Indígenas Populares – COPINH (Civic Council of Popular Indigenous Organisations). The human rights defender was killed by several gunshots from a high-calibre weapon. There were three gunshot wounds to his body; in the head, the chest and the right thumb.

COPINH is an organisation that works for the defence of the land and the environment, and for improving the living conditions of communities and indigenous peoples in Honduras. Justo Sorto was a prominent leader of an indigenous Lenca community who lives in the west of the country. That community works for the defence of its forests and against the execution of mining projects in the region. He was a founding member of the Coordinadora Indígena del Poder Popular de Honduras – CIPPH (Co-ordinator of Indigenous Peoples' Power of Honduras) and the Movimiento Morazanista del Poder Popular – MMP (Morazanist Movement of Popular Power).

Justo Sorto had been detained by police on various occasions for his participation in the taking of roads while campaigning for the expulsion of lumber dealers who were destroying the forests in which the Lenca community lives, in the departments of Lempira, Intibucá and Santa Barbara. He also spearheaded many projects, amongst them the struggle against the Tigre dam which was to be constructed on the border between Honduras and El Salvador.

A CIPPH-MMP delegation has been sent to the Yance community in Jesús de Otoro to accompany the family in the burial of Justo Sorto.

I roundly condemn the killing of Justo Sorto, which is related to his peaceful and legitimate work in the defence of the environmental rights of the indigenous Lenca community. I express its profound concern for the physical and psychological integrity of the family of Justo Sorto as well as that of all other human rights defenders working in Honduras, particularly those who defend land and environmental rights.

I urge the authorities in Honduras to:

  1. Carry out a thorough, impartial and immediate investigation into the killing of human rights defender Justo Sorto with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;
  2. Take all necessary measures to guarantee at all times the physical and psychological integrity of the family and colleagues of Justo Sorto;
  3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Honduras are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of violence, restrictions or reprisals of any kind.

Yours sincerely,

William Nicholas Gomes
Human Rights Ambassador for Salem-News.com
Twitter @wnicholasgomes
Email: william@williamnicholasgomes.com
williamnicholasgomes.com

- See more at: http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/24742/action#sthash.AquVssZ8.dpuf

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