Monday, April 02, 2007

LGBT Activist in Honduras Beaten by Police and Raped at Police Station by Detainees according to Amnesty International

(New York) -- Donny Reyes, an advocate in Honduras for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights, was beaten by police and raped by fellow detainees in a police station, according to Amnesty International today. The organization mobilized its membership to appeal to Honduran authorities for a full and prompt investigation and to bring those responsible to justice.

Reyes was reportedly arbitrarily detained by police in the Comayaguela district of Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, on March 18. Officers beat him and took him to a police station where they left him in a cell for six and a half hours, where other detainees repeatedly raped and beat him, allegedly encouraged by a police officer. Reyes has lodged a formal complaint. Since then, police appear to have attempted to intimidate him. Amnesty International believes that he, and other members of the organization he heads, may be in grave danger.
"Attacks against LGBT people in Honduras are a scourge the police should confront -- yet the police are part of the problem," said Ariel Herrera, acting director of Amnesty International USA's OUTfront Program. "Honduran authorities must condemn the attack immediately and make clear that such deeds will not be tolerated."

Reyes is the treasurer of "Asociacion Arcoiris" (Rainbow Association), an LGBT rights group which was set up in 2003 to train human rights defenders and promote HIV/AIDS prevention. On March 18 at about 3 a.m. Reyes walked out of the Arcoiris offices to stand with a colleague while she waited for a taxi. Moments later, six police officers in two police cars stopped next to them and asked for identification. Reyes' colleague had none with her, but the police officers were only interested in him. He showed them his ID card but they told him to get into the car. He refused and began to argue, saying that he had done nothing wrong. After a few moments they allegedly began beating him and forced him to get into the car. They abused him, saying, among other things, "a estos maricones hay que desaparecerlos de aqui" (''we have to disappear these queers from here'').

Upon arrival at Comayaguela's Police Station, Reyes was put in a cell with 57 men, most of whom had been arrested hours earlier. A police officer allegedly shouted to them, "Miren, aqui les traigo a una princesita, ya saben lo que tienen que hacer" (''Look, I'm bringing you a little princess, you know what to do''). Reyes was then beaten, stripped and raped by four men, allegedly members of street gangs.

That morning, at approximately 10:30 a.m., those who could pay a bribe of 200 lempiras (approximately US$10) were told to move into a courtyard, which was open to the street, to be released. Reyes consented to pay the bribe and while waiting for his belongings, the police officer guarding him left, so he ran away. Three days later he reported what had happened to the Public Prosecutor's Office and to a senior police officer. He has also undergone medical forensic examinations to record the violence he had suffered.

Since March 27, police cars have parked in front of Arcoiris's office several times a day, for around five minutes each time in an apparent attempt to prevent Reyes from pursuing his complaint.

Previously, police raided Arcoiris's offices on June 12 and July 1, 2006, taking documents and destroying computers and furniture, though nothing valuable was stolen. Between the two raids, the then Director of Arcoiris, Jose Richard Figueroa, was assaulted in the street. He left Honduras in December and is seeking asylum in Spain. No one has been brought to justice. In October 2006, Arcoiris applied to the Ministry of Interior for official NGO status. A decision is pending.

According to local NGOs, some 200 LGBT people were murdered in Honduras between 1991 and 2003. Few of these killings have been officially registered as hate crimes; fewer still have been investigated or had those responsible brought to justice. .


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