Honduras: New Arbitrary Detentions. This Time Victims are Travesti People

SUMMARY

On Saturday, May 26th, 2007, Claudia Spellmant, a trans activist with Colectivo Travesti of San Pedro Sula was walking by Morazan Boulevard to Francisco Morazan Stadium in San Pedro Sulas City in Honduras, to a music concert, when she was intercepted by the #57 municipal police patrol. The policemen requested her to get in the car without giving any reason. When she refused, they violently detained and brought her to the Municipal Police Department (Posta Municipal). After half-an-hour, seven other women were arrested and brought to the station, three of them travestis. Next, they were physically, verbally, and psychologically abused by the police officers. The Municipal Police General Commander, Colonel Sandoval then gave instructions to hit Nahomy Otero, one of the travestis arrested, saying she disobeyed the instructions he gave to trans people to avoid particular public places, which are only for “normal” and decent people.

ACTION

IGLHRC joins RED LAC TRANS (Latin American and Caribbean Trans Network) to ask you to please write TODAY to the authorities below, condemning the punishment of travestis and transsexuals by not allowing them freedom of expression and arresting them without evidence. IGLHRC and Honduran activists are also asking for a full investigation into the incident.

Please find a sample letter to the following officials below:

Fiscal General del Estado (Attorney General)

Sr. Leónidas Rosa Bautista
Ministerio Público, Lomas del Guijarro
Tegucigalpa, Honduras
FAX +504 221 5667

Ministro de Seguridad, Secretaría de Seguridad (Minister of Security, Security Secretariate)
Sr. Álvaro Antonio Romero Salgado
Edificio Pujol, 4to. Piso, Col. Palmira (Blvd. Morazán)
Tegucigalpa, Honduras
Teléfonos: (504) 220-5547, (504) 220-4553
Fax: (504) 237-9070, +504 220 4352
Comisionado Nacional de los Derechos Humanos (National Human Rights Commissioner)
Sr. Ramón Custodio López
Dirección: Colonia Florencia Norte, Boulevard Suyapa,
Tegucigalpa, Honduras C.A.
Teléfonos: +504 239-0438, 239-0433,
Fax: +504 232-6894
Correo Electrónico: custodiolopez@conadeh.hn
Sr. Alcalde San Pedro Sula: (Mayor of San Pedro Sula City)
Lic. Rodolfo Padilla Sunseri
Teléfonos: (+504) 550-60-29 / (+504) 550-51-30 / (+504) 558-19-95 / (+504) 557-99-78
Fax: (+504) 557-35-56
Correo Electrónico: sps@honduras.com
Delegación de los Derechos Humanos Regional del Norte (Human Rights Delegation, North Region)
Wilfredo Castellanos, Delegado Regional
Dirección: Barrio El Benque, Casa No.70 Novena Avenida, Cuarta Calle Sur Oeste, San Pedro Sula, Cortés, Honduras.
Teléfono: (+504) 552-81-13,
Fax: (+504) 552-82-40
Correo Electrónico: norte@conadeh.hn

Kindly send a copy of your letter or email to:

Claudia Spellmant
Colectivo Travesti
Correo Electrónico: ctravesti@yahoo.es
Fernando D’Elio
IGLHRC- Programa para América Latina y el Caribe
Correo electrónico: fdelio@iglhrc.org

SAMPLE LETTER

Dear Sir,

We write to you to express our deep concern for the arrest of Claudia Spellmant, a travesti who was detained at Morazan Boulevard in San Pedro Sula City when she was walking to a music concert. The same day, other women were arrested, mistreated physically, verbally, and psychologically, without having committed any crime but to exert the right to walk freely on city streets. One of them was twelve years old, and escaped by jumping over a wall with barbed wired. Later, two women were freed due to the obvious discrimination against trans people.

Considering what has occurred, we ask you:

  • To make an exhaustive investigation of the facts, that must begin by asking activists to meet with you.
  • To punish the officers guilty of violence or discriminatory treatment against travestis in this incident accordingly.
  • To call on citizens who work with populations who are discriminated against and mistreated in the city to give their points of view of how the police can protect citizens while not violating their human rights.

We will be waiting for your answer and your future actions on this issue.

Sincerely,

Name, Organization, Address

BACKGROUND

The incident described above is typical in Honduras. Last May, Amnesty International launched an Action Alert about the detention of Donny Reyes and other companions of Arco Iris (a GLTTB organization).
For more information about Donny’s case, please follow these links http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ESLAMR370022007 and http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ESLAMR370042007?open&of=ESL-2AM

For more information on the Status of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Individuals in Honduras, please visit our website for a shadow report by Global Rights and the International Human Rights Clinic at the University of Virginia School of Law, with assistance from IGLHRC.
http://www.iglhrc.org/cgi-bin/iowa/english/article/publications/reportsandpublications/308.html
.

The terms ‘travesti’ and ‘travestis’ do not have an exact English translation, as they imply particular gender identities and expressions.

INTERNATIONAL AND DOMESTIC LAW

The right to be free from discrimination and to equality before the law is protected by the Universal Declaration on Human Rights - UDHR (Articles 2 and 7), the International Covenant on Social and Political Rights – ICCPR (Articles 2 and 26), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights – ICESCR- (Article 2), the Interamerican Human Rights Convention - IAHRC (Articles 1 and 24) and Honduras Constitution (Articles 60 and 61)

The United Nations Human Rights Committee affirmed in its decision in Toonen v Australia (1994) that existing protections against discrimination in Articles 2 and 26 of the ICCPR should be understood to include sexual orientation as a protected status. Numerous other human rights mechanisms of the United Nations have subsequently condemned discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The right to Freedom of Expression is protected by UDHR (Article 19), ICCPR (Article 18), and IAHRC (Article 13).

In some USA cities like West Hollywood (1998), Ann Arbor (1999) and Chicago (2002) as well as in the state of Connecticut (2004) there are antidiscriminatory dispositions explicitly mentioning “gender identity”. In cities like Boston (2002) and the states of Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio (in all cases, since 2004) there are similar dispositions mentioning “gender identity and expression”. “Gender expression” refers to the way in which people express how they perceive themselves in terms of gender, through dress and behavior.