Honduras: Reports of ‘death squads’ as attacks against marginalized communities rise
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Honduras: Reports of ‘death squads’ as attacks against marginalized communities rise

U.S. humanitarian organization Casa Alianza reported their concerns Sunday over increased of extermination squads set to cause fear among the population. The organization urged the government to stop the “slaughter” of children and adolescents, victims of crime in Honduras.

Casa Alianza reacted after suspected heavily armed gang members arrived at the Hato de Enmedio neighborhood, east of the capital city Tegucigalpa, and shot two victims at close range on Friday February 12.

The victims were three girls and two boys aged 13 and 16. The deceased were all members of one family and were in the neighbourhood collecting trash for recycling in order to survive, Honduras’ La Prensa reports.

On Monday, January 15, at around 7 p.m., at least three more young people were reported killed during a shoot out in the same neighborhood.

According to a police report, the young people were at the grocery store when heavily armed men arrived. To escape the killers, the victims fled, but were caught up and hit by gunfire. The bodies of the three deceased were abandoned in the back of an alley.

Social cleansing

“This new massacre occurred in a hostile environment for children and young people, records of violence show that at least 81 children and young people are killed every month in the country and more than 98 percent of crimes remain in total impunity.” Casa Alianza said in a press release.

The organization urged the government to stop the killing of children and young people and investigate “in depth extermination squads that systematically carry out a strategy of social cleansing in order to create fear among the population”.

The NGO said President Juan Orlando Hernandez’s government has failed to meet with its proposed policy eradicate violence in the country, where nearly a 100 young people are killed each month.

For the organization “it is clear that the security strategy put in place by the current government has failed to protect the population and it is expensive, inefficient and ineffective because it costs the lives of thousands of Hondurans.”

Falsified statistics?

For Casa Alianza, “the current government makes up the numbers in relation to the violent events in an effort to give a misleading picture of what actually happens.”

According to figures from the Ministry of Security, homicide rates dropped in 2015 to 56.7 per 100,000, down from 75.1 in 2013 and 67.5 in 2014. The global average remains at 6.3.

Founded in 1981, Casa Alianza is a non-profit organization dedicated to rehabilitating and defending poor young people in Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras . It is the Latin American branch of NGO Covenant House, whose headquarters are based in New York.

At least 22 people have died during massacres so far this year in Honduras, according to the Violence Observatory at the National Autonomous University.

The coordinator of the Observatory, Migdonia Ayestas, said “these killings sent a message to the State to desist from making presence in the territories which for years have been dominated by criminals.”

It is estimated that 33 percent of Honduras’ 112,492 square kilometer territory is under the control of the Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18 gangs, controlled by international drug traffickers and organized crime.

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