Sunday, 29 November 2009

Amnesty International denounces intimidation in Honduran elections

   Tegucigalpa - Amnesty International (AI) denounced Friday an atmosphere of intimidation in the run-up to controversial general election in Honduras.

In a statement, AI charged that the de facto government in Honduras has stockpiled anti-riot material such as tear-gas ahead of Sunday's elections.

Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya has rejected the election results and called upon Hondurans to boycott it.

AI delegate in Tegucigalpa Javier Zuniga told the German Press Agency dpa that basic voting guarantees were not being respected, due to the limitations on personal freedoms that were imposed in the Central American country since democratically-elected Zelaya was ousted by a military coup on June 28.

   Zuniga noted that freedom of opinion, expression and association, among others, were being violated in Honduras.

'Rights like the right to communicate and receive information, which are fundamental for an electoral process so that people have a perspective on what is happening, are constantly suffering limitations,' Zuniga told dpa.

He said that intimidation is particularly significant in the provinces, while conditions are better in the capital, Tegucigalpa.

AI denounced in a statement that the de facto authorities in Honduras 'have stock piled 10,000 tear gas cans and other crowd control equipment, triggering fears of an increased risk of excessive and disproportionate use of force by security forces around the presidential elections.'

'The past misuse of tear gas and other crowd control equipment, together with the lack of guarantees that the purchased equipment will not be used to attack demonstrators and the absence of investigations on past abuses paints an extremely worrying picture of what might happen over the next few days,' Zuniga said in the statement.

The AI delegation was to remain in Honduras until December 4. They were planning to meet with victims of human rights violations, representatives of human rights organizations, journalists, teachers and doctors, as well as soldiers and police officers.