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Honduras

    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.

    June 13, 2018

    Honduran authorities have continued to violate the human rights of people arrested during last year’s post-election protests by denying their right to due process and holding them in inhumane conditions, said Amnesty International in a report released today.

    Protest prohibited: Use of force and arbitrary detentions to suppress dissent in Honduras documents how the authorities used excessive force and arbitrary or prolonged pre-trial detention, among other measures, to suppress the wave of demonstrations that followed the elections on 26 November 2017 and to discourage further dissent.

    “Not only did Honduran security forces use excessive force to repress peaceful protesters in the immediate aftermath of last year’s contested election; the state then held detainees in deplorable conditions for months on end while denying their rights to due process and an adequate defence,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    March 07, 2018
      This month, the land and water defenders of the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), have requested visible support from around the world. Why now?

    This month marks two years since gunmen burst into the home of COPINH leader Berta Cáceres (below) and shot her to death. Prior to the deadly attack, Berta had reported receiving death threats from powerful people connected to a controversial hydro-electric project called Agua Zarca whose construction she was campaigning to stop because of its destructive impacts on the rights of indigenous communities and the environment.

    For the past two years, amidst an official investigation that seemed intent on a cover-up, members of COPINH and Berta’s family, like her daughter Bertita (below), have courageously sought justice. 

    March 05, 2018

    Following the Honduran authorities’ decision to charge Roberto David Castillo, the executive president of Desarrollos Energéticos S.A. (DESA), for his involvement in the killing of environmental human rights defender Berta Cáceres, Erika Guevara-Rosas, the director of Amnesty International in the Americas, said:

    “The investigation into the alleged role of senior members of DESA, the company building the dam that Berta Cáceres campaigned against, in her brutal murder two years ago, was long overdue. But the buck must not stop here. The authorities must ensure that all those implicated in the killing of Berta Cáceres are brought before justice in fair trials.”

    “Last year, a team of international experts presented evidence indicating that other high-ranking state agents and DESA executives may have been involved in ordering Berta’s killing. Honduran authorities must continue the investigations, and if sufficient evidence exists, bring charges against all those involved in the killing, including those who ordered the crime.”

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    March 02, 2018

    The Honduran authorities’ failure to identify those who ordered the brutal murder of the environmental human rights defender Berta Cáceres and bring them to justice puts hundreds of human rights defenders at grave risk, said Amnesty International on the second anniversary of her killing on 2 March.

    “Two years on from Berta Cáceres’ tragic death, the failure to resolve this case and bring all those responsible to justice sends a chilling message that human rights defenders can be killed with impunity if they dare question those with power in Honduras,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “Real justice for Berta also means going after those who ordered her killing, something that this outrageously flawed investigation has failed to do. By not taking action, Honduran authorities are also failing in their obligation to protect human rights defenders from further attacks.”

    February 22, 2018
    Amnesty International publishes State of the World’s Human Rights report for 2017 to 2018 “Last year our world was immersed in crises, with prominent leaders offering us a nightmarish vision of a society blinded by hatred and fear. This emboldened those who promote bigotry, but it inspired far more people to campaign for a more hopeful future,” says Salil Shetty, head of Amnesty International

    The world is reaping the terrifying consequences of hate-filled rhetoric that threatens to normalize massive discrimination against marginalized groups, Amnesty International warned today as it launched its annual assessment of human rights.

    Nevertheless, the organization found that a growing movement of both first-time and seasoned activists campaigning for social justice provides real hope of reversing the slide towards oppression.

    The report, The State of the World’s Human Rights, covers 159 countries and delivers the most comprehensive analysis of the state of human rights in the world today.

    January 19, 2018

    Ahead of massive popular mobilization and protests announced to take place as of 20 January, Amnesty International calls on the Honduran authorities to respect and protect the right to peaceful assembly life and physical integrity of protestors. The opposition has called for a week of protests at national level to reject the investiture ceremony scheduled to take place on 27 January.

    “The excessive use of force that led to fatal victims and serious injuries since 29 November, is unacceptable and should not be repeated. Honduran authorities have the responsibility to protect people’s lives and rights; security forces must refrain from using firearms to control or disperse crowds. People must be allowed to exercise their right to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    The use of force is an exception only for cases where non-violent measures are ineffective in preventing violence or other lawbreaking, and authorities must ensure it is strictly proportionate to the harm it seeks to prevent.

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