EXTERNAL AI Index: AMR 24/01/96
UA 216/96 Fear for safety 5 September 1996
COSTA RICAReina Xiomara ZELAYA GONZÁLEZ, and her daughters:
Maryuri Johanna ZELAYA GONZÁLEZ, aged 6 (f)
Stephanía Xiomara CABALLERO ZELAYA, aged 12 (f)
Cynthia Lorena CABALLERO ZELAYA, aged 13 (f)
Reina Xiomara Zelaya, who fled to Costa Rica with her three young daughters
in February 1996 after receiving death threats in her native Honduras, is once
again in fear for her life. During the past two weeks she has been subjected
to surveillance and harassment in Heredia, near San José, Costa Rica, apparently
by members of the Honduran security forces.
The targeting of Reina Zelaya is believed to be a result of the fact that the
father of two of her daughters, Cynthia and Stephanía, is Florencio Caballero,
a former member of the Honduran military intelligence unit, Batallón 3-16,
Battalion 3-16. He has testified during investigations into past human rights
violations in Honduras (see below), and is currently seeking asylum in Canada.
On 29 August 1996, an unidentified man, believed to be a member of the Honduran
security forces, followed Reina Zelaya throughout the day while she was
receiving treatment at the Hospital del Seguro, a hospital in Heredia. The
same man was seen near her place of residence on 30 August and reportedly
approached six-year-old Maryuri Zelaya González to ask her about herself and
her father and mother.
Unidentified men in civilian clothing, believed to be members of the Honduran
security forces, have reportedly followed Reina Zelaya and her daughters since
they arrived in Costa Rica. On 17 August, when Reina Zelaya was working at
a bar in Heredia, she was reportedly approached by two unidentified men with
Honduran accents, who asked her name and then left. The same men returned
to the bar on the following two days but did not find her there. As a consequence
of this harassment, Reina Zelaya had to give up her job at the bar.
Stephanía Xiomara was reportedly followed by unidentified individuals in a
car with tinted windows after leaving school in late August.
Reina Zelaya and her daughters have been granted asylum in Costa Rica.
Former members of the Honduran military have provided information on the
practice of "disappearance" in that country to the Inter American Court of
Human Rights and other national and international agencies intent on
establishing the truth about past gross human rights violations in Honduras.
An official report estimates that at least 184 people "disappeared" in Honduras
in the 1980s. Florencio Caballero testified to having worked between 1979
and 1984 as an interrogator for Battalion 3-16, a military intelligence unit
entrusted with the task of targeting political suspects and carrying out their
abduction, detention, torture and murder.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/airmail
letters in Spanish or your own language:
- expressing concern for the safety of Reina Xiomara Zelaya and her daughters
in the light of the harassment and surveillance against them, allegedly carried
out by members of Honduran security forces in Costa Rica;