Honduras: Human rights defender needs protection: Gladys Lanza

Posted on August 4, 2010


A Honduran human rights defender has received a threatening email message and a series of anonymous phone calls. Amnesty International believes that her life may be in danger.

On the evening of 17 July, Gladys Lanza, Coordinator for the Visitación Padilla Pro-Peace Women’s Movement (Movimiento de Mujeres por la Paz Visitación Padilla) received an email with the subject: “Hello old whore!!!”(Hola vieja puta!!!). Part of the email said: “…Now we’re coming for you, you stupid old woman!!! […] Billy Joya Amendola renewed.” (Ahorita te caemos, vieja ignorante!!! […] Billy Joya Amendola renovado). Many people in Honduras are fearful of Billy Joya, due to his reported activities with the 3-16 Battalion, a Honduran military intelligence unit which committed human rights violations in the 1980s. Six photographs were attached: an image of Billy Joya, a kitten holding a sniper rifle, a bizarre funeral procession led by men in prisoners’ uniform, a watch with the time at 10.12, and two photographs of Gladys Lanza. Three hours before, Gladys Lanza had taken part in a radio programme produced by the Committee of Relatives of the Disappeared in Honduras (Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras, COFADEH), where she condemned the resurgence of militarism in Honduras and plans for the US government to establish new military bases in Honduras. During the programme, where different guests talked on the same subject and also mentioned general human rights issues in Honduras, a text message was sent to the programme: “You communists are the ones who deserve a kicking for being liars.” (Ustedes comunistas son los que kieren patadas por mentirosos).

Throughout June, Gladys Lanza received four separate calls to her mobile phone, where all she could hear was heavy breathing. Calls from the same number continued throughout July, but Gladys Lanza stopped answering.

On 24 July 2009, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) called on the Honduran authorities to protect Gladys Lanza. This order has not been adequately implemented by the Honduran authorities. Commitments to hold regular meetings with Gladys Lanza and to organize police patrols around the Visitación Padilla office have not been fulfilled, leaving Gladys Lanza in danger.

PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY in Spanish or your own language:

  • Calling for an independent, thorough and impartial investigation into the threats and harassment against Gladys Lanza;
  • Urging that the authorities take immediate steps to fully comply with the IACHR order of 24 July 2009. The form of protection provided to Gladys Lanza must be agreed with her and reflect her own wishes;
  • Reminding the authorities that human rights defenders have a right to carry out their activities without any unfair restrictions or fear of reprisals, as set out in the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

SOURCE: Amnesty International