Battalion 3-16, a clandestine military death squad originally trained and equipped by the CIA, is synonymous with torture, murder and disappearance in Honduras. The nightmare began in August 1980, when twenty-five Honduran army officers were flown to a desert air strip in the southwestern U.S. to spend six months learning interrogation techniques. After this and subsequent training sessions in Honduras, a repressive pattern emerged: once suspected guerrillas targeted for surveillance were captured by disguised Battalion 3-16 agents using unmarked vehicles, they were interrogated and tortured in hidden jails, summarily executed, and their bodies dumped in unmarked graves. The Honduran and U.S. governments routinely denied that death squads existed in Honduras. In this pathbreaking report translated into English by HRW/Americas and the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), the Honduran government for the first time accepts responsibility for a systematic pattern of disappearances, many of them carried out by Battalion 3-16. This report is a major accomplishment in the hemisphere-wide struggle to establish truth and justice for serious human rights violations. In publishing it in English, HRW and CEJIL seek to spur a truth-telling process in the U.S. that would complement and reinforce that underway in Honduras. The human rights organizations invite the U.S. government to release all relevant documents concerning disappearances in the 1980s and to implement steps to ensure that U.S. aid — whether covert or overt — is never again used for torture, summary executions, or other criminal acts.
- News Release
- CommentaryPublished in The Age