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Honduras

    November 10, 2017
    Amnesty International delegates standing in solidarity with defenders in Honduras

    Our driver from Tegucigalpa to La Esperanza needed nerves of steel as he swerved to avoid gaping potholes on a road banked by steep drops to the river below. 

    river_honduras.jpg

    But any risks we faced on the journey to visit COPINH, the organization of murdered Lenca Indigenous leader Berta Cáceres, were nothing in comparison to the ongoing dangers faced by her family and colleagues. 

    Our Amnesty delegation of campaigners from Canada, Spain, Sweden, Mexico and the United States arrived at COPINH’s office to find images of Berta everywhere. 

    November 03, 2017

    By Kathy Price, campaigner responsible for work on human rights defenders in Latin America

    From November 5-12, an Amnesty International mission is visiting Guatemala and Honduras to send a clear message: land and water defenders need protection NOW. 

    My colleague, Tara Scurr, and I will join Amnesty International campaigners from Sweden, Spain, USA and our regional office in Mexico to meet with human rights defenders, victims and government authorities, as well as Embassy staff representing the European Union, Canada and the US.

    We'll be handing over more than 40,000 petition signatures from Amnesty supporters across Canada to urgently call on the governments of Honduras and Guatemala to address this crisis. These signatures communicate a strong message of concern from Canada that we hope will have an impact, together with the signatures gathered in other countries.

    July 27, 2017

    By Kathy Price, AI Canada's Honduras campaigner. Follow Kathy on Twitter @KPriceAmnesty

    “Admirable, courageous, inspiring”: those were the words we heard over and over again from the Members of Parliament, government officials and Amnesty supporters who heard the testimony of Central American human rights defenders we brought to Ottawa in June.

    All have paid dearly for their efforts to defend the rights of vulnerable people seeking to protect the land and water on which their lives depend.

    Luis Fernando García Monroy (left) was shot by security guards of a Canadian-owned mine in Santa Rosa, Guatemala during a 2013 protest against its impacts on the environment so vital to the livelihoods and well-being of local inhabitants. Following surgery and reconstruction of his face, Luis Fernando went on to co-found Youth Organized in Defence of Life (known by its Spanish acronym JODVID), to carry on the creative, determined activism of Topacio Reynosa, another young human rights defender who was killed in 2014.

    July 14, 2017

    By Kathy Price, Amnesty International Canada’s Latin America campaigner

    It is a story of immeasurable courage and the lengths to which shadowy and not-so-shadowy forces will go in brazen attempts to extinguish it.

    The place is Honduras, a country of staggering poverty and a tiny minority with enormous wealth, who will go to extraordinary lengths to protect it.

    It was just eight years ago that a military coup was executed in order to remove a democratically-elected president seeking to make changes that threatened the rich and powerful. What followed was a wave of repression against opponents of the coup and those speaking up for the rule of law.

    Deadly violence and injustice has only continued in the years since.

    Among the targets are the women and men of COPINH, acronym of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras. Its co-founder Berta Cáceres, winner of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize, was gunned down in her home in March 2016.

    July 06, 2017
    Lenca indigenous women protest against the murder of Honduran environmentalist Berta Caceres, in front of the Public Ministry in Tegucigalpa on April 5, 2016.

    Lenca indigenous women protest against the murder of Honduran environmentalist Berta Caceres, in front of the Public Ministry in Tegucigalpa on April 5, 2016. Photo credit: ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP/Getty Images

     

    April 25, 2017

    Ahead of a debate in the Honduran congress today over the country’s criminalization of abortion, Amnesty International’s Americas Director Erika Guevara-Rosas said:

    “By criminalizing abortion, the Honduran Penal Code is incompatible with human rights standards and must be modified without delay.”

    “Preventing women from exercising their human rights by stopping them from being able to make decisions over their own bodies only puts their health and lives in danger.”

    As part of a wider debate on the country’s Penal Code, the Honduran Congress will debate proposed changes that would allow for abortions when the health of the pregnant woman is at risk, when the pregnancy was the result of rape and in cases of foetal impairment that is incompatible with life.

    In a report last year, Amnesty International documented many abuses – some of which may amount to torture — faced by women across the Americas as a consequence of the criminalization of abortion services in some countries in the region.

    March 20, 2017

    Take action to support water defenders under dangerous attack in Central America. 

    March 02, 2017

    By Kathy Price, Honduras Campaigner with Amnesty International Canada

    It is one year since beloved water defender Berta Cáceres was gunned down in Honduras and a vital moment for renewed action from Canada, amidst ongoing deadly violence in the Central American country.

    On March 2, 2016, shortly before midnight, assassins entered the home of inspirational Indigenous leader Berta Cáceres and shot her.

    It should never have been allowed to happen. Berta had warned that her name was on a hit list and reported dozens of death threats against her. They coincided with her efforts to stop construction of the Agua Zarca hydro electric project out of concern for its impacts on the water and lands of Indigenous communities.

    Recognizing the danger, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights called on Honduras to protect Berta. The call fell on deaf ears.

    February 27, 2017

    Released: Monday 27 February 2017, 00:01 GMT

    The scandalous lack of an effective investigation to find those responsible for ordering the brutal killing of Honduran environmental activist Berta Cáceres sends a terrifying message to the hundreds of people who dare to speak out against the powerful, said Amnesty International on the first anniversary of the killing on 2 March.

    “Berta’s tragic murder illustrates the woeful state of human rights in Honduras. The message is clear: if your human rights work disturbs those with power, you will be killed,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.  

    “The scandalously poor investigation into Berta’s murder, which has so far failed to identify those responsible for ordering her killing and the lack of an effective mechanism to protect witnesses and other human rights defenders, shows the Honduran authorities’ lack of interest in securing justice.

    February 03, 2017

    A toxic smear campaign has put #Honduras' human rights defenders at risk of physical attacks. Act to protect them: https://t.co/nPwn1gxK0D pic.twitter.com/Yg4H1ykl0w

    — Urgent Actions (@AmnestyUA) February 15, 2017

     

    International organization Global Witness, along with Honduran organizations MILPAH, COPINH and CEHPRODEC are facing a smear campaign against them for their work defending land, territory and environmental rights in the country. This increasing campaign puts them at risk of further harassment and physical attacks.

     

    October 20, 2016

    "No more murders of campesinos in the Aguán region" reads a banner held up during a 2012 march by members of the Unified Campesinos Movement of the Aguán Valley. (Photo: AFP as at www.commondreams.org)

     

    On 18 October, José Ángel Flores and Silmer Dionisio George of the Unified Campesino Movement of the Aguán were murdered. Both human rights defenders were shot dead after attending a meeting with several campesino (peasant farmer) people in La Confianza settlement, Bajo Aguán region, north-eastern Honduras.

     

    October 19, 2016

    The brutal murders of two land rights activists in Honduras last night are the latest tragedies in a seemingly unstoppable wave of deadly attacks turning Honduras into a no-go zone for human rights defenders, said Amnesty International.

    José Angel Flores, 64, President of the Movimiento Unificado Campesino, was shot dead by a group of unidentified men in the department of Colón, northern Honduras, in the afternoon of 18 October.

    Another community leader, Silmer Dionisio George, was also shot in the incident and died at a local hospital hours later.

    “Honduras has turned into a ‘no-go zone’ for anyone daring to campaign for the protection of the environment. How many more activists have to be brutally murdered before the authorities take effective action to protect them, or even be willing to talk about this crisis?” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    September 02, 2016

    By Erika Guevara-Rosas

    Chills ran down Tomás Gómez Membreño’s spine when he first heard about the brutal murder of his renowned friend and ally, the Honduran Indigenous leader Berta Cáceres, six months ago this week.

    A fellow environmental activist and second in command at the Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), Tomás feared he would be next.

    Berta’s work was widely and globally acclaimed and had earned her international awards - if someone could violate the sanctuary of her home and shoot her dead, it was too frightening to contemplate what could happen to any of the country’s lesser-known human rights defenders.

    Tomás also knew the hopes to have a proper investigation and to ensure the crimes against human rights defenders would not be repeated again were slim, in a country where authorities rarely condone attacks on activists.

    Tragically, he has a point.

    Six months after two armed men walked into Berta’s home one evening and murdered her in cold blood, Honduras has become a no-go zone for anybody daring to protect natural resources such as land and water from powerful economic interests.

    August 31, 2016

    Released Thursday 1 September 2016, 10:00 Tegucigalpa (16:00 GMT)

    An insidious wave of threats, bogus charges, smear campaigns, attacks and killings of environmental and land activists in recent months has made Honduras and Guatemala the most dangerous countries on earth for those protecting natural resources, Amnesty International said in a new report six months after the brutal murder of Indigenous leader Berta Cáceres.

    We defend the land with our blood explores the increasing stigmatization, threats, attacks, killings and lack of justice faced by individuals and communities fighting to protect the environment from large-scale mining, logging and hydroelectrical projects.  

    “Defending human rights is one of the most dangerous professions in Latin America but daring to protect vital natural resources takes these risky jobs to a whole new, potentially lethal level,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International. 

    May 06, 2016

    By Josefina Salomón, News Writer at Amnesty International

    The armed men who burst into the house of Honduran Indigenous leader Berta Cáceres on 3 March had a simple plan: find her, kill her, and leave.

    What they didn’t expect, however, is for Gustavo Castro, a human rights activist working with Friends of the Earth Mexico and a close friend of Berta’s, to be in the next room.

    “I was working on a presentation when I heard a loud bang,” said Gustavo, who is now in Mexico. “I thought something had fallen, but when Berta screamed, ‘Who’s there?’, I knew it was bad, that it was the end.”

    When they heard him, one of the armed men rushed to Gustavo’s room. He pointed a gun at his face, shot him and ran.

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