Ojojona Women’s Network
THE FACTS – At 3:30 Tuesday afternoon, March 24, the police arbitrarily arrested Evelyn Johana Castillo, Assistant Coordinator of the Ojojona Women’s Network and member of the National Network of Women Human Rights Defenders in Honduras, as she was returning from buying food with her husband and older daughter.
The defender reported that a police agent intercepted her and after searching her bag, began to berate and reprimand her for being in the street during the COVID-19 emergency situation despite the fact that the curfew was not yet in effect at that time, having been established from 7 pm to 6 am. Another agent arrived and began to aggressively detain Evelyn, pushing, pulling and shoving her.
Upon realizing that the defender’s daughter was recording the attack on her cell phone, the two policemen took it away from her. When she refused to give them the password, they formatted the phone to erase the information.
Evelyn Castillo was under arrest until 6 o’clock the next morning.
The defender has denounced the fact that this attack against her could have been a reprisal. She explained that two days beforehand, a conflict arose when she came to the aid of a vendor in the park, defending her against that same policeman, who was trying to evict her even though her sales had been authorized by the municipal police.
We are extremely concerned about the fact that this aggression occurred in the context of the exceptional measures arbitrarily imposed during the COVID-19 crisis, and that it involved a total abuse of authority by police agents. The attack confirms the fears we have expressed regarding the COVID-19 emergency measures decreed by the State in Honduras, among other countries. These imply the suspension of a number of fundamental rights and may be used to heighten social control and pursue and attack human rights defenders.
We of IM-Defensoras and the National Network of Women Human Rights Defenders in Honduras condemn these acts and demand guarantees for the protection of Evelyn Castillo and her family; we hold the Honduran government responsible for any further attack against her physical, moral or psychological integrity.
In the same vein, we express our concern over the risk situation faced by women human rights defenders in Honduras as a result of the measures decreed with the pretext of combatting the COVID-19 threat, and call on the international community to stay on the alert for any further abuses that may be perpetrated.