Hank Johnson on the Two-Year Anniversary of the Ahuas Killings and the Launching of a Joint Inspector General Review of the Incident
|Written by Alexander Main|
|Monday, 12 May 2014 15:37|
Sunday, May 11 marked the grim two-year anniversary of a tragic incident that CEPR has investigated and frequently blogged about: the DEA-related killing of four indigenous villagers in the northeastern Moskitia region of Honduras. The victims – two women, a fourteen year-old boy, and a young man – were in a small passenger boat headed to the town of Ahuas when they were shot dead by a counternarcotics team made up of DEA and Honduran agents. Four other boat passengers were injured. When Honduran police authorities described the drug interdiction operation as “successful,” local authorities and human rights groups protested, pointing out that those killed all had legitimate reasons for traveling on the river and that there was no evidence that police agents had fired in “self-defense” as the DEA alleged.
Congressman Hank Johnson (D-GA), who initiated a congressional letter demanding a full U.S. government investigation of the incident back in January of 2013, has authored an opinion piece for Al Jazeera America that was published on the two-year anniversary date. The piece laments the DEA’s response – or lack of response – to the congressional letter, which was signed by 58 members of the House of Representatives:
Johnson’s op-ed also notes that the “persistent call for a U.S. investigation of these tragic killings may have finally been heard.” Concretely, the Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) has announced that it is joining the Department of State’s OIG in carrying out a review of the U.S. government response to three counternarcotics missions in Honduras in 2012 that involved the use of deadly force. Aside from the Ahuas killings, the DEA was involved in two other controversial and deadly incidents during a two-month time period, during which DEA agents shot and killed alleged drug traffickers. The wording of the OIG announcement, which mentions the issue of “cooperation of DEA personnel” and “information provided to Congress,” suggests that the Ahuas killings will be a big focus of the review. Here is the full DOJ OIG statement, under “Ongoing Work”:
In his op-ed, Johnson refers to the review as an important “first step”, one that has been “late in coming.” But, he says,