Published: December 2002
Government Stops “Medidas Cautelares” with Threats and Intimidation
The Honduran Ministry of Health committed a serious human rights
violation against four Honduran people living with HIV/AIDS who
had received “medidas cautelares” from the Interamerican Human Rights
Commission in Washington, by releasing their names to a Tegucigalpa
(Honduras) newspaper called La Prensa.
cautelares” are “temporary protective orders” granted by the Interamerican
Commission in specific cases where human rights violations have
La Prensa published the four names in its edition of 1 September,
2002, along with an article discussing the medidas cautelares approved
by the Interamerican Commission ordering that the government provide
these four people and several others with anti-retroviral medications.
In its original letter to the Government approving the medidas cautelares,
the Commission had stated that the names of the petitioners were
to be kept in strictest confidentiality.
The full names of these four people were published and each one
suffered severe consequences as a result.
"The government did this on purpose," said one Honduran
Person with AIDS,.who wished to remain anonymous.
"After the names were published, they warned us that they would
publicly release the names of anyone else who also asked for medidas
cautelares against the government. Dr. Humberto Cosenza of the Health
Ministry said in several pubic meetings that the "medidas cautelares"
were “unpatriotic.” Apparently some Ministry officials also implied
that the funding of any organization supporting "medidas cautelares”
would be terminated.
After the publication of the names, the Asociacion Agua Buena and
CEJIL Mesoamerica filed a complaint against the government for this
action with the CIDH. On 26 November, 2002 Santiago Canton, Executive
Secretary of the Commission sent a letter to the Honduran government
Commission views with concern that information was diffused in spite
of the specific request (of the Commission) that the names of the
patients referred to (in the prior letter) remain confidential.
As your Excellency will understand, confidentiality is very important,
given that when information of this type is published it can cause
damages to those people who have been protected by the medidas cuatelares.
The Interamerican Human Rights Commission
since the article appeared in the La Prensa, no one else in Honduras
has been willing to send medidas cauteleras to the Commission. "We
are all too afraid," said one PVS who wished to remain anonymous.
According to Richard Stern, Director of the Asociacion Agua Buena,
which filed the original petitions with the Interamerican Commission
along with CEJIL Mesoamerica "the response of the Interamerican
Commission to the government is well intentioned, but very weak
given the seriousness of this offense and its consequences. The
Commission should have, at the very least, recommended that the
government publish an apology in the same newspaper and a promise
to respect the confidentiality of anyone seeking medidas cautelares.
All of the activists in the community of People Living with HIV/AIDS
in Honduras have been warned that there will be consequences if
any more medidas cautelares are sent, and this very polite letter
from Dr. Canton to the government will not change anything. The
Commission has a moral responsibility to act as forcefully as possible
when there are negative consequences for those who have solicited
its help. The damage has already been done. No one else with AIDS
in Honduras will solicit intervention from the Commission.”
this moment only about 230 of about 4000 people in Honduras who
need anti-retroviral medications are receiving them.
Association Agua Buena