CCR Sends Letter to State Department Urging Actions to Ensure Safety of Family of Slain Activist

January 23, 2012, New York – Today the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) wrote to the U.S. State Department expressing concerns that David Murillo and Silvia Mencías, plaintiffs in a case against coup leader Roberto Micheletti Baín, face serious risks of harm upon their return to Honduras. They have been staying in Argentina following death threats and frequent surveillance by police and unknown entities since the killing of their 19-year-old son by the military. The letter urges U.S. officials to take all available steps to ensure the Honduran government guarantees the safety of the Murillo family and other human rights defenders.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime recently reported that Honduras currently has the highest homicide rate in the world, with journalists, political activists, union leaders, land-rights advocates and others killed daily without consequence.

In the letter, Vincent Warren, Executive Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, describes the intensifying human rights crisis in Honduras and cites letters from members of Congress over the well-documented fact that "members of the security forces are implicated in many incidents of threats, harassment, attacks and extrajudicial executions." The letter also references reports from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on the "disproportionate use of force to quell public demonstrations against the policies of the current government; the lack of independence of the judiciary; and the situation of human rights defenders."
The letter reads:
“Indeed, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was established by the coup government, in part at the urging of the United States, also noted the involvement of state security forces or ‘people acting in [the state's] interest’ in the killing of those in opposition to the coup and coup-government. Additionally, in an expert report submitted in the Murillos' case, Human Rights Watch investigator Tamara Taraciuk details and documents the complete culture of impunity that prevails in Honduras for the coup and the human right violations that have multiplied exponentially since the coup.

“It is imperative that the Embassy publicly denounce the threats and harassment already suffered by the Murillos and publicly declare to Honduran government officials the obligation to respect and protect the human right to life and personal security of David Murillo and Sylvia Mencías, specifically, and of all human rights defenders in Honduras.”

Currently, the U.S. is providing funding to Honduran police and military forces. Given Congressional concerns, a percentage of this funding was recently conditioned on the human rights situation and requires additional State Department reporting on human rights.
To read the letter in full, click this PDF link.

For more information on the Murillo’s legal case visit:

Para el comunicado de prensa en Español, haga clic en el siguiente enlace PDF.



The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at


Last modified 

January 23, 2012