Honduras: After two years in pre-trial detention, release arbitrarily detained Guapinol human rights defenders

  • Today marks exactly two years since Guapinol human rights defenders were jailed
  • Human rights defenders featured in CIVICUS’s Stand As My Witness Campaign
  • United Nations declared their detention is arbitrary and calls for their release
  • Detention unlawfully extended for further six months in August
  • Honduras one of the most dangerous places for environmental rights defenders

For two years, eight members of the Committee for the Defence of Common and Public Assets (CMDBCP) have been held in pre-trial detention in Honduras for defending protected water sources and natural resources of communities in danger of mining related contamination. The Guapinol human rights defenders have been advocating against the Guapinol mining project in Tocoa, in the department of ColĂłn in Honduras. They were initially detained on 1 September 2019, and are being kept arbitrarily in pre-trial detention without any legal basis.

The eight defenders are Ewer Alexander Cedillo Cruz, José Abelino Cedillo Cantarero, José Daniel Márquez Márquez, Kelvin Alejandro Romero Martínez, Porfirio Sorto Cedillo, Orbin Nahuan Hernández, Arnol Javier Alemán and Jeremías Martínez. They were initially arrested on 26 August 2019, while protesting against the mining activities of the Honduras company Inversiones Los Pinares (ILP), which threatens the safety and livelihood of thousands of people in communities in the department of Colón. ILP was granted mining concessions by the state of Honduras in 2014 and its ongoing mining projects have contaminated water sources. Projects are being implemented without adequate consultations with communities affected.

“There is absolutely no basis for Honduras to detain the eight human rights defenders and to continue to keep them in pre-trial detention. Despite numerous calls from the international community, including from United Nations bodies for their release, the Honduran authorities continue to disregard the rule of law and have held them for two years now,” said David Kode, Advocacy and Campaigns Lead, CIVICUS.

The CMDBCP was set up primarily to raise awareness about the impact of the Guapinol project mining activities and to advocate against the actions of mining communities on behalf of the people affected. More than 32 members of CMDBCP have been subjected to judicial persecution and arbitrary detention, 6 have been killed and many more face threats and intimidation. These restrictions are symptomatic of the violence and human rights violations which target environmental and land rights activists, which makes Honduras one of the most dangerous countries for activists working on climate justice and environmental rights in the world.

On 9 February 2021, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions established that the deprivation of the liberty of the Guapinol human rights defenders is arbitrary and called on Honduras to release them immediately.

“The continuous detention of the Guapinol human rights defenders violates Honduras’ regional and international human rights violations and exposes the defenders to severe health risks in the context of a global pandemic,” David continued.

The Guapinol human rights defenders are part of the CIVICUS #StandAsMyWitness campaign - a global campaign that advocates for the rights of human rights defenders and calls for their release.

CIVICUS calls on the Honduras government to respect the rule of law and immediately release the Guapinol human rights defenders and hold those responsible for human rights violations accountable.

For more information on civic space violations, visit the Honduras country page on the CIVICUS Monitor

 

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