Council Raises Concerns about Keeping Violence from Spreading
LWI Council Press Release No. 09/2012 | BOGOTÁ, Colombia/GENEVA, 20 June 2012 (LWI) – The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Council has appealed to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to establish an office in Honduras, and to strengthen its presence elsewhere in Central America.
A public statement adopted by the LWF governing body at its 15-20 June meeting in Bogotá also urged the governments of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to “hear the cries of their people” by protecting human rights and ending impunity for those committing violence, particularly against women and girls.
The statement proposed by the Committee for Advocacy and Public Voice called for the formation of an ecumenical accompaniment program to help protect human rights defenders, especially in Guatemala and Honduras. The committee’s report had noted that paramilitary forces in the three countries go unchecked; human rights defenders are persecuted and killed; and poor farmers are kicked off their land by powerful elites, and sometimes even killed.
The Council affirmed that bilateral and multilateral economic and security aid to the region, including the supply of firearms to police and military forces, should be subjected to the full respect of human rights. Programs should be strengthened for the security and safety of women and youth, including “access to education, employment, and the opportunities for a dignified life,” it said.
The governing body underlined the LWF’s long history of closely accompanying the churches in the three countries. It noted growing concern for the alarming increase of violence characterized by murder rates that are among the highest in the world, with drug gangs taking over neighborhoods and the lack of strong institutions of justice.
“It is vital that the contributing factors and continuing violence [are] addressed and controlled, so that the suffering of vulnerable people is alleviated and the violence does not spread to neighboring countries,” the Council noted in its statement.
The LWF governing body extended its prayers and solidarity for the churches and people of Central America, especially those in “violence-torn” El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. (351 words)