Honduran Supreme Court holds Guapinol Defender trial violates international human rights obligations

The NLG-IC, member of Observatory for Justice of the Guapinol and San Pedro River Defenders in Colón, Honduras, welcomes the Court decisions published yesterday by the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Judicial Court of Honduras. The rulings resolved two outstanding amparo actions (requests for injunctive relief) presented by the environmentalists’ defense during 2020 and 2021 and supported by amici curiae briefs presented by organizations of this Observatory.

This case has resonated throughout Latin America where many communities are struggling to stop local resource destruction by unsustainable mining projects and contributes valuable jurisprudence for international human rights lawyers.

The Supreme Court resolutions corroborate what the defense and the non-governmental and intergovernmental organizations following the case have insisted upon for more than two years: that the criminal proceedings against the defenders have violated their rights to due process, to the presumption of innocence, and to personal freedom from arbitrary detention. We regret that the Supreme Court, as well as the prolonged Honduran justice system, took so long to formally recognize these anomalies, unjustifiably extending the defenders’ pre-trial detention and causing unnecessary pain to their families and community.

Compliance with the Supreme Court decisions is a first step towards redressing the violations requiring the immediate release of the six water defenders who remain in detention. Additionally, the authorities must initiate the necessary judicial procedures to vacate the prior illegitimate convictions to comply with the orders of the Constitutional Court, the highest judicial authority binding all Hondurans.

In addition, international institutions following the case are requesting the Honduran government to immediately initiate restitution in order to compensate the defenders for damages suffered, as well as establish reparations towards the community. Furthermore, we demand a thorough investigation into the more than two-year illegal detention of the defenders and effective protection to guarantee their personal security and of family members. We will continue our vigilance to assure that no reprisals are taken and a peaceful resolution of the socio-environmental conflict is attained, including reparations.

The Observatory calls for prompt and total compliance with the orders issued by the Supreme Constitutional Court on February 10, 2022. Any delay in their implementation constitutes a further breach of the State’s national and international obligations. We trust that the release of the detained defenders and the full compliance of the Court orders will become immediately effective.

Amparo resolutions: https://www.poderjudicial.gob.hn/SiteAssets/Paginas/CSJHN/SCO03052021.pdf




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