International experts urge the Supreme Court of Justice to put an end to the arbitrary detention of the Guapinol River Defenders in Honduras and to respond to habeas corpus appeal
December 15, 2021
Today, before the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice of Honduras, the National Lawyers Guild International Committee was among nine national and international human rights organizations and experts in international law to present an Amicus Curiae brief. The amicus brief focuses on the international standards and the legal provisions that Honduras’ Constitutional Chamber must take into account immediately when considering the appeal for Habeas Corpus presented by the Defense Team of the Guapinol Defenders yesterday.
The habeas corpus appeal was submitted on behalf of the Guapinol Water Defenders, Kelvin Alejandro Romero Martínez, José Daniel Márquez Márquez, Porfirio Sorto Cedillo, José Abelino Cedillo Cantarero, Ewer Alexander Cedillo Cruz, Orbin Nahum Hernández, Arnold Javier Alemán and Jeremías Martínez. The eight water defenders are facing proceedings of the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice. In August 2021, the preventive detention of the eight defenders was extended for six months without a proper legal basis.
Within hours after the habeas corpus filing was delivered to the Plenary of the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Chamber admitted the appeal and assigned an executing judge to review the arbitrary detention of the defenders of the Guapinol River. The Amicus presented today shows that, if it complies with its legal obligations, the Chamber has no other option than to proceed to rule the end of the illegal detention of the defenders, in jail for more than 27 months for protecting the waters affected by a mining project in a national park.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has described the detention of the Guapinol water defenders as arbitrary and has asked Honduras for their immediate release and reparation, while requesting that those responsible for their arbitrary detention be investigated. To date, the Honduran state has not complied.
The brief presented by the experts concludes that, since February 2021, with the notification of the Working Group, the Honduran State has had a “clear roadmap on the best interpretation of international standards on preventive detention and due process in the case of Guapinol’s environmental defenders. ” This roadmap is based on the recognition of the United Nations Working Group that “the detention to which the defenders have been subjected is illegal and that, by virtue of this, it is imperative that the State adopt measures to end this situation and to repair the wronged. “
Despite the fact that as of the date the Criminal Chamber issued its decision, this opinion was already known to the Honduran authorities, the Criminal Chamber “did not take it into account, which contravenes international and constitutional standards and therefore, it is necessary that the Constitutional Chamber correct this situation and, incidentally, at the beginning of the implementation of this international opinion, in accordance with the provisions of the international norms to which the Honduran state is a party. “
Edwin Espinal, a Honduran political prisoner for almost 2 years, symbolically presented the amicus to the Constitutional Chamber and joins international experts to urge the Supreme Court of Justice to immediately resolve the Habeas Corpus in a favorable manner and put an end to once to the arbitrary detention of the Guapinol River Defenders so that they can spend this Christmas with their families.
Organizations that signed the Amicus Curiae:
International Human Rights Law Clinic, Law School, University of Virginia, USA
Human Rights Clinic, Center for Research and Teaching in Human Rights, University of Ottawa
Civicus – International
Foundation for Due Process – International
Legal Team for Human Rights, Honduras
World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) – International
Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights (RFKHR), USA
International Committee of the National Lawyers Guild, USA