Keyla Martínez
Organizaciones y familia de Keyla Martínez realizaron plantón frente a los Juzgados de la Esperanza, Intibucá. Foto: Tomada de red social X.

The tragic case of Keyla Martínez highlights the urgency of combating impunity in femicides, which reaches 95%. The family insists on seeking justice, urging not to remain silent in the face of violence against women.

By Lourdes Ramírez


In addition to experiencing a painful process due to the loss of a daughter, sister, aunt and friend, Keyla’s family has had to face fear, harassment and intimidation from the authorities who pressured them to recognize the verdict of «suicide», and thus freeing the agents from any responsibility.

“From the first day they murdered my daughter, we were the objects of threats,” says Doña Norma. She emphasizes that at all times the police officers’ statements were focused on covering up each other and that they used false witnesses to create a case in favor of the homicidal agent.

“Part of my family had to leave the country due to constant threats, and not only from the police but also from Dr. Edgar José Velásquez,” said the woman.

A State without resources

For Andrea Paz, coordinator of the Security Observatory of the Women for Life Forum (non-governmental), the case of Keyla Martínez is an example of the weakness of the State of Honduras and the debt that exists to guarantee justice for women. Where, despite pressure from civil society organizations and international observation, police agents get off lightly thanks to the deficiencies of the investigation system, the Public Ministry and the Judiciary.

It also provides a context to realize how a case with clear indications of criminal responsibility ends in impunity, much more so those complex crimes where the authority does not show interest or have the resources to investigate. “That is why this country has a 95 percent level of impunity in femicides,” she points out. According to data from that entity, more than 7,600 women have been murdered in recent years.

Regarding the process of intimidation and exile that some of Keyla’s relatives have had to go through, he points out that it is a constant because there is no protection for the victims’ relatives. They often have to take risks to investigate and obtain some degree of truth and justice. The Witness Protection System, attached to the Secretariat of Human Rights, does not work, he acknowledges. “You have to create a whole chain of force between family, organizations, friends, to have a little justice.”

For the Women for Life Forum, it is clear that the investigation and judicialization process of the Keyla Martínez case was quite biased in favor of the National Police and therefore towards the State.

Analyst Leonardo Pineda points out that the handling of the process shows that the authorities do not want to recognize that there is an internal problem that invariably has the consequence that when police and military commit crimes “there is no justice.” He assures that this has been seen “dozens, hundreds of times, how the police attack citizens again and again, and very few go to trial.”

He exemplified that the change in the classification of crime, from femicide to reckless homicide, was made with the objective of not pointing out the police as the perpetrator of a hate crime, in this case femicide, but rather it was a simple oversight «and this should not pass».

“It is unfortunate that not only the police enter into this discourse, but also at the level of judges and prosecutors who do not want to give a correct verdict in this case.”

Pineda, who three years ago participated in monitoring the issue of crime, was able to see first-hand the shortcomings of the investigative bodies, in issues such as lack of vehicles, collection of evidence, excess work for investigators and prosecutors.

“It can take an investigator or a prosecutor six or seven months to solve a case. If you receive six cases, eight, nine or ten cases in a week, how will it turn out? “It’s difficult,” she says.

We must continue raising our voices for Keyla Martínez

For Mrs. Norma, the wound will never heal. “There are days when I start thinking about my daughter, how she would ask for help, if she tried to defend herself. The truth is that these unfortunate people had no compassion for her and murdered her”, she reflects.

Think of so many mothers whose children have been victims, and how they would like to seek justice for themselves, “but we don’t have that conscience, that black and rotten heart that they have. We only have to continue fighting and making the case visible so that, one day, someone listens to us and justice is done.”

Doña Norma points out that given the panorama of violence, impunity and injustice that prevails in Honduras, her family members fear that something will happen to them. “But we will still continue to demand justice. Keyla’s death cannot remain like this, we want to demonstrate that there can be justice through demands and set a precedent so that so many women no longer continue to be killed.»

“I tell people not to be afraid. If we don’t raise our voices, they are going to continue killing us women. «We are going to continue being silent and they are going to continue killing women.»

Students were key participants in the #JusticeForKeyla protests. Photo: OHCHR Honduras.

Until the publication of this report, the Sentencing Court had not made public the sentence against police officer Jarol Perdomo. In all scenarios, justice will set him free.

If the sentence does not exceed five years, you may request the “conditional suspension of the execution of the prison sentence,” by availing yourself of numeral 1 of article 78 of the Penal Code. If the sentence imposed were 7 years as requested by the Prosecutor’s Office, it can refer to article 81 of the same Code, which allows conditional release upon serving half of the sentence, which would reach in October 2024.


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