Our Voices

Kerry Kennedy demands continued justice for Vicky Hernandez, her family

Tegucigalpa, Honduras — Visiting Honduras a year after the Inter American Court of Human Rights issued a landmark ruling holding the government of Honduras accountable for the murder of trans woman and activist Vicky Hernandez, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights President Kerry Kennedy demanded justice not only for Vicky’s life but the life of her mother.

“Vicky was murdered, brutalized, not because she broke the law but because of who she was as a human being,” Kennedy told Honduran Prosecutor General Manuel Diaz Galeas, Human Rights Director Nelson Molina, and other government officials during a Friday evening meeting at government headquarters in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa. “This case is not just about Vicky, it’s about every trans person here in Honduras,” Kennedy said. “It’s about every sexual minority. And not just in Honduras but throughout all of Latin America.”

Vicky was murdered on the night of the Honduran coup d’état on June 28, 2009, when a 48-hour curfew was imposed and the streets were closed to everyone but military and police forces. Visiting a friend, she left soon after hearing the news of her curfew, but still was shot in the head and her body was left in the street.

After the state’s investigation was characterized by negligence, inaction, and a culture of impunity.

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights and Red Lésbica Cattrachas represented Vicky’s family before the IACHR arguing that Vicky was the victim of an extrajudicial killing, the State of Honduras was responsible for her death, the State’s investigation proved to be negligent, and that she was discriminated against because of her gender identity. In the hearing, there were two key questions raised: If the Convention of Belém do Pará could be applied to trans women and whether Honduras could be held internationally responsible for the death of Vicky Hernández and if the lack of investigation by the State was motivated by her gender identity or expression.

As part of the IACHR’s June 2021 ruling, the court issued a series of reparations—including financial support for Vicky’s family. Vicky’s mother, Rosa Hernandez, is suffering from cancer.

“Her mother’s life could be saved if the state just complies with the court order so they can afford cancer treatments,” Kennedy said. “And it is extraordinary to be in this position where the state took away Vicky’s life and now is taking away her mother’s life by failing to comply with the order.”

Diaz Galeas told Kennedy, along with a delegation from Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights and partners Red Lesbica Cattrachas, that he was committed to “make the efforts necessary. To raise awareness and request of public officials who need to comply effectively with the court orders.”

In addition to compensation to the Hernandez family, the court also ordered reparations including a public act of recognition and responsibility for Vicky’s murder, educational scholarships for trans women, a procedure to change trans individuals’ names and gender identity on documents, and a permanent training plan for state security forces.

Members of the RFKHR delegation, together with members of Cattrachas, are planning to travel to San Pedro Sula to meet with the Hernandez family and for the public act of recognition in the coming days.