U.N. expresses concern about killings of prosecutors

The United Nations human rights office Tuesday sounded the alarm on the recent killings of public prosecutors in Guatemala and Honduras, as well as the increasing vulnerability of human rights defenders in the two Central American countries.

“We are extremely concerned about an apparent new trend of targeting public prosecutors in Central America, apparently by organized crime groups,” said Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. He spoke at a news briefing in Geneva, Switzerland.

“Over the past week, public prosecutors have been murdered in both Guatemala and Honduras in the course of their duties, amid growing insecurity and violence in both countries,” he said.

May 24 in Guatemala, Allan Stwolinsky, the local auxiliary prosecutor in Coban in the Department of Alta Verapaz, was found decapitated in a plastic bag in front of the governor’s house, he said.

Both the attorney general and the interior minister blamed the murder on the Mexican drug cartel Los Zetas and linked it to the seizure of 453 kilograms of cocaine, which had been coordinated by the auxiliary prosecutor.

Colville noted that this killing took place in the aftermath of the brutal massacre of 27 land workers in Peten, allegedly also by Los Zetas.

In Honduras, Raul Reyes Carbajal, a public prosecutor in the city of San Pedro Sula, was gunned down Sunday by several armed men who shot at him from another vehicle as he was driving home from work.

According to eyewitness reports, after Reyes was hit in his car, he lost control and crashed into a bus. His attackers then got out of their vehicle and shot him again to ensure he was dead.

Reyes had been coordinator of the public prosecutor’s office in Puerto Cortes for one month and had previously coordinated a special unit against organized crime. The killing comes at a time when the public prosecutor’s office in San Pedro Sula had decided to investigate the killings of seven youths, reportedly linked to gangs, during a police operation a few days earlier.

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