A group of independent United Nations experts voiced concern today over the influx of foreign mercenaries in Honduras since the Central American nation’s President was deposed in a military coup in June.
The experts have received reports of the recruitment of former Colombian paramilitaries to protect properties and individuals in Honduras from violence between supporters of the ousted President José Manuel Zelaya and the de facto Government.
Land owners in Honduras have hired some 40 ex-fighters from the former armed group, Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC), since Mr. Zelaya was removed from power on 28 June, according to the UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries.
In addition, the Working Group said that other sources report an armed group of 120 mercenaries originating from several countries in the region was formed to support the coup in Honduras.
“There are also allegations of indiscriminate use of ‘Long Range Acoustic Devices’ by the police and mercenaries against President Zelaya and his supporters who have taken refuge at the Embassy of Brazil,” the experts said in a news release.
“We urge the Honduran authorities to take all practical measures to prevent the use of mercenaries within its territory and to fully investigate allegations concerning their presence and activities,” they added.
The experts noted that the recruitment, use, financing and training of mercenaries is prohibited under the International Convention on the issue, which Honduras has signed, stressing the right of Hondurans to decide how they want to be governed without the influence of any other entity.
The Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination was established in 2005 by the Commission on Human Right, which has since been succeeded by the Human Rights Council.
It comprises five experts serving in their personal capacities. They are: Shaista Shameem of Fiji, Najat al-Hajjaji of Libya, Amada Benavides de Pérez of Colombia, José Luis Gómez del Prado of Spain and Alexander Nikitin of Russia.