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UN rights chief urges Honduras to address violence against lawyers

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] on Wednesday urged [press release] the government of Honduras [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] to take measures to address the violence against human rights defenders. The call came amid two recent killings of lawyers working on human rights cases in the country. The lawyer who worked for defending peasant groups in land conflicts matters had repeatedly reported death threats before he was killed last Saturday. Two days later another prosecutor who worked on human rights cases was shot to death. Pillay stated that the incidents were not isolated but were representative of the situation in the country: "chronic insecurity" facing human rights defenders. The High Commissioner cited the Honduran Bar Association which found that 74 lawyers had been killed within three years without a response by the authorities.

Human rights defenders are still subject to violence and arrests in various places around the globe. In July the government of the Philippines was urged to protect human rights defenders [JURIST report] and ensure that they can pursue their work without interference. Two UN Special Rapporteurs reported that members of this group received death threats and have even been killed since the death of Fr. Fausto Tenorio in Mindanao last year. In May the Special Rapporteurs on human rights defenders, the situation of human rights in Iran, and the independence of judges and lawyers called on Iran to grant [JURIST report] human rights defenders the ability to carry out their legitimate activities and to take measures so that they receive adequate protections. In March UN Special Rapporteur Margaret Sekaggya outlined the risks and challenges [JURIST report] faced by human rights journalists and media workers, and called for additional protection of those workers.

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