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(Washington, D.C.) – Honduras should conduct a prompt, thorough, and impartial investigation into the killings of dozens of peasants in the Bajo Aguán Valley, Human Rights Watch said today.

Fifteen people, including six peasants and four private security guards, were killed in the Bajo Aguán Valley in August 2011, according to a local group. The administration of President Porfirio Lobo ordered the military to patrol the area after these incidents. 

“A prompt and impartial investigation is absolutely critical to ensure that those responsible for the killings in the Bajo Aguán Valley are brought to justice,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch.

The killings occurred in the midst of a longstanding territorial dispute between peasants and landowners in the Bajo Aguán Valley. At least 40 peasants, as well as several security guards and bystanders, have been killed in the region since President Lobo took office in January 2010.

The authorities have issued arrest warrants, but no one has been arrested or charged for these killings, a prosecutor told Human Rights Watch.

Honduras is party to several international treaties, including the American Convention on Human Rights. These treaties obligate countries to deter and prevent rights violations, investigate and prosecute offenders, and provide remedies to victims.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has held that “the State has the obligation to use all the legal means at its disposal to combat [impunity], since impunity fosters chronic recidivism of human rights violations and total defenselessness of victims and their relatives.” 

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