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Honduras

    July 05, 2019

    The government of President Juan Orlando Hernández has embarked on a policy of repression against those who protest in the streets to demand his resignation and accountability for the actions of authorities. The use of military forces to control demonstrations across the country has had a deeply concerning toll on human rights, said Amnesty International upon presenting the findings of a field investigation. 

    “President Juan Orlando Hernández’s (JOH) message is very clear: shouting ‘JOH out’ and demanding change can be very costly. At least six people have died in the context of protests and dozens have been injured, many of them by firearms fired by security forces since the beginning of this wave of demonstrations,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International. 

    May 10, 2019

    Rosalina Domínguez of COPINH in Rio Blanco © Sean Hawkey for Amnesty International

    *UPDATE* On July 16, 2019 the community awoke to find their food crops had been intentionally trampled and destroyed. Amnesty International is deeply concerned that further attacks against the community will follow. 

    May 03, 2019

    In response to the attacks against human rights defenders who were monitoring protests in Honduras in recent days, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said:

    “In recent days, Amnesty International has recorded several attacks against human rights defenders who have intervened in the detention of demonstrators and others not involved in the protests in Honduras, as well as the use of tear gas by security forces outside the headquarters of the Committee of Relatives of Detained and Disappeared Persons in Honduras (COFADEH), where demonstrators tried to take shelter. We also observed with alarm the detention of a human rights defender, followed by public statements questioning and stigmatizing the work these people do.”

    April 03, 2019

    Laura Zúñiga Cáceres © Sean Hawkey

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    Do you have a river, lake or a spot near the ocean that is special to you?

    For Laura Zúñiga Cáceres, (Lao ra ZOO niga KA se res) the Gualcarque River in the Central American country of Honduras is more than special. Her people, the Lenca Indigenous people, consider the river to be sacred. Its fresh water is necessary for food, plants and medicines that Lenca communities rely on to survive. 

    February 28, 2019

    Three years after the murder of Berta Cáceres, the Honduran defender of environmental and Indigenous rights, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said:

    “Although there has been an initial judgment in the case and in the last few days the Prosecutor has announced that a businessman suspected of being behind the killing of Berta Cáceres will be charged, the Honduran justice system still has a responsibility to pursue a thorough investigation into her death. It must identify all those responsible for this crime – not just those directly involved – and ensure that it does not go unpunished.”

    “Bringing to justice in a fair and impartial process all those directly responsible as well as those behind the killing would send a clear message to Honduran society and the entire world that there will be no impunity for this type of crime against defenders of the land and the environment.” 

    January 10, 2019

    Berta Caceres was a beloved, internationally-recognized defender of Indigenous rights and the environment in Honduras. She received death threats as she led efforts to stop construction of the Agua Zarca hydro-electric project on the Gualcarque River, considered sacred by Lenca Indigenous communities and vital for their survival in their territory. Berta reported the threats. She was assassinated on March 2, 2016.

    Bringing this horrific crime to justice is vital since impunity only fuels more killings of defenders of land, territory and the environment in Honduras. Indeed, the killings have continued in the three years since Berta’s murder.

    January 10, 2019

    January marks one year since Edwin Espinal and Raul Alvarez were arrested and sent to a military-run prison without trial, denied the chance to defend themselves against accusations they say are false.

    This injustice happened during a brutal crack-down as thousands of Hondurans took to the streets to protest alleged electoral fraud by the government of Juan Orlando Hernandez. Security forces shot at and beat protestors. Dozens were killed or badly injured. Others, like Edwin and Raul, were detained and denied their rights to due process. The crackdown was documented by Amnesty International in our report Protest Prohibited. 

    After one year in a maximum security prison for violent criminals, without adequate food, water, sanitation, medical attention or access to daylight and exercise, both men have lost considerable weight and their health is in danger. There is no end in sight as Amnesty has documented multiple irregularities and serious violations of their right to defend themselves.

    December 01, 2018

    Almost three years after the murder of well-known Indigenous rights and river defender Berta Cáceres in Honduras, there are finally some bittersweet steps towards justice. They are half steps, fraught with troubling omissions and violations of due process. But important steps forward none the less.

     

    In a unanimous verdict, a three-judge tribunal of the National Criminal Court convicted seven men of involvement in the murder of the beloved human rights defender who was awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for her tireless, courageous efforts to stop the Agua Zarca dam because of its impacts in Lenca Indigenous territory. 


     

    November 30, 2018

    The irregularities in the investigation and court proceedings relating to the murder of prominent human rights defender Berta Cáceres, combined with the fact all those who masterminded the crime have still not been identified, lead to the conclusion that neither the right to justice, the right to the truth, nor the right to reparation have been guaranteed in this emblematic case, Amnesty International said today.

    “By excluding the victims from the murder trial of human rights defender Berta Cáceres and by having the Public Prosecutor’s Office – an institution that has repeatedly been reported for violating their rights – act as their representative, the path to justice and truth has been blocked for the defender’s family” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International. 

    “Despite the ruling delivered today in this emblematic case, the Honduran justice system must demonstrate its commitment to the truth and identify all those who planned and ordered the murder of Berta Cáceres”

    October 23, 2018

    Responding to the decision of the National Criminal Court that the trial of those accused of the killing of Berta Cáceres should proceed with the Public Prosecutor's Office acting as representative for her family and for Gustavo Castro, the only witness to the killing, because their lawyers supposedly abandoned the trial, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International, stated:

    “Throughout the investigation of the killing of Berta Cáceres, the family of the human rights defender and Gustavo Castro have repeatedly stated that the Public Prosecutor’s Office neither ensured they had genuine and full access to the case file and the evidence nor fulfilled its obligation to identify those suspected of being behind the killing.”

    “Despite this, to date the National Criminal Court has taken no action to ensure that the Public Prosecutor’s Office fulfils its obligation to give the lawyers access to the information they have requested. Faced with this situation, the lawyers lodged a petition calling for the judges hearing the case to be recused on grounds of bias.”  

    September 28, 2018

    In light of the situation facing human rights defenders and journalists in Honduras, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International, said:

    “In recent weeks, several journalists and representatives of both international and Honduran human rights organizations have reported to Amnesty International the circulation of videos and statements on the internet discrediting them and stigmatizing their work, portraying them as threats to Honduran society.”

    “These sinister campaigns along with the silence of the Honduran authorities lead to a hostile environment for the defence of human rights and freedom of expression and allow more serious attacks against defenders and journalists to take place.”

    “Corporate sector representatives have also made stigmatizing statements about those who protest against energy projects, portraying environmental defenders as criminals and as opposed to development”.

    September 18, 2018

    It was a day of expectation, emotion and drama. The long awaited first day of the trial of 8 men charged with involvement in the murder of iconic indigenous rights and environment defender Berta Cáceres.

    The case has attracted considerable attention, in part because Berta was so well known and the recipient of a prestigious Goldman Environmental prize for her efforts to oppose a controversial hydroelectric dam and its impact on the territory and rights of marginalized Indigenous communities.

    Police in riot gear were ominously present as I arrived at the court house in my yellow Amnesty vest, making visible to all that our global movement of 7 million supporters will be observing the trial in the hope of ensuring impartial justice, while respecting the independence of the Honduran judiciary.

    September 07, 2018

    More than 59,000 supporters of Amnesty Canada have raised their voices to demand justice in Honduras since beloved Indigenous rights defender Berta Caceres was gunned down in her home on March 2, 2016. The assassination was perpetrated less than a year after the leader of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) was awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for her courageous work challenging the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam and its impact on the land and water so vital to the rights and survival of Lenca Indigenous communities. Berta had repeatedly denounced threats she said came from people working for Desarollos Energeticos SA (DESA), the company developing the dam project. The government failed to act to protect Berta.

    July 25, 2018

    In anticipation of the evidentiary hearing in the criminal case against eight people accused of the killing of Berta Cáceres scheduled for 27 July, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International, said:

    “The Honduran justice system must comprehensively review the killing of the brave human rights defender Berta Cáceres and analyze the motives behind the crime, in addition to the political and economic actors who could have somehow been involved in this heinous crime.”

    “It is crucial that the perpetrators of the crime be investigated, but also those behind it. If they fail to do so, the Honduran authorities are sending the message that only those who carried out the order to kill Berta Cáceres will face the consequences and not those who gave the order or planned this crime, therefore encouraging further attacks against those who defend the land, territory and environment.”

    For more information please contact Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations 416-363-9933 ext 332 bberton-hunter@amnesty.ca

    June 22, 2018

     

    It's impossible to be in beautiful, dangerous Honduras without being deeply moved by the courage and big-hearted tenacity of people who risk their lives and freedom to defend human rights.

    Their just cause has never left my thoughts since I took part in an Amnesty mission to Honduras last November.

    Scarce weeks later, back in Canada, I watched in horror as disturbing images on my social media feed made it clear that the situation for defenders of rights and justice in Honduras had just got much, much worse.

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