Eighty-four members of Congress this week issued a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, urging the department to press the government of Honduras to investigate an ongoing wave of violence against LGBT citizens.
Among the signatories on the letter were Pennsylvania Congressmembers Chaka Fattah (D-2nd Dist.) and Mike Doyle (D-14th Dist.).
“Honduras is currently experiencing institutional breakdown, widespread drug trafficking and judicial impunity, which have led to unprecedented levels of criminal violence,” the letter stated. “Of
particular concern are recent reports which have indicated that members of the LGBT
community have increasingly been victims of violent hate crimes.”
In the memo, the Congressmembers ask how the department plans to intervene to prevent crime in general in the country and if it intends to press the government for attention to the LGBT cases.
A 2011 State Department report found that the Honduran law-enforcement system was riddled with corruption and officers frequently targeted vulnerable populations, including LGBT people.
Since the coup that overtook the Honduran government in 2009, more than 70 LGBT people have been murdered in the country, Congressmembers wrote.
They went on to call for specific information on cases like the 2009 shooting death of LGBT activist Walter Trochez and last month’s strangling death of out journalist Erick Martínez Ávila.
“The fact that these crimes continue to occur with impunity leads us to question whether the government of Honduras has the will or the ability to bring these perpetrators to justice,” they wrote.
The Congressmembers also asked for details on a number of LGBT-related cases that the Special Victims Task Force — an investigative body funded in part by the United States — closed.
“It is essential to know the names of the victims whose cases have been closed, and the outcome in each case, in order to ensure accountability for the resources the U.S. has allocated for the Special Victims Unit and for the Honduran LGBT community to know that these cases are being effectively prosecuted with U.S. assistance.”
The coalition asked for the secretary to respond “with haste” so that “together we can measure the effectiveness of the government of Honduras in bringing accountability for the murders of LGBT Hondurans. This will help to guarantee that President Obama’s directive to ensure all U.S. government agencies engaged overseas ‘respond swiftly to abuses against LGBT persons’ is rigorously implemented.”