GENEVA - The U.N. human rights office is calling on all parties in Honduras to refrain from violence amid heightened tensions over the country's disputed presidential election.
U.N. appeals for restraint by the Honduran government and opposition forces have fallen on deaf ears. Its warnings of the potential risk of deaths and injuries during violent protests have materialized.
One protester reportedly has been killed and another wounded during clashes between riot police and demonstrators Saturday. The opposition has announced widespread nationwide protests between January 20 and January 27. That is when Juan Orlando Hernandez is to be sworn in for a second term as president of Honduras.
The U.N. human rights office says it is afraid of what might happen over the coming week. Spokeswoman Liz Throssell told VOA her agency is calling on all sides to keep the protests peaceful.
"We are calling on the security forces not to use excessive force.We are concerned about the heightened unrest as I indicated that there have been deaths.So, we are really just calling on all sectors in Honduras. It is a difficult moment.Clearly, there is political polarization. But, really just to engage in dialogue, to remain calm," she said.
Deadly protests broke out following the November 25 Presidential election. At least 22 people reportedly have been killed, among them 21 civilians and one police officer. Throssell said her office has verified information that security forces were responsible for 13 of these deaths.
She said security forces must use only necessary and proportionate force in policing demonstrations in line with international law. She added those who use lethal force should be held accountable.