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    October 22, 2020

    Given the lack of publicity around this morning’s pre-trial hearing against David Castillo, the only person accused of masterminding the murder of the Lenca leader and environmental defender Berta Cáceres, Amnesty International reminds the Honduran authorities of their obligation to comply with due process.

    Prior to the beginning of the oral and public debate, a hearing was scheduled on 22 October to examine the proceedings against David Castillo, the former manager of the company Desarrollos Energéticos (DESA), who was in charge of the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project.

    According to the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), the organization that Berta Cáceres was general coordinator of, the broadcast of the hearing could not be accessed remotely due to the absence of a technician, thus limiting publicity and the transparency of the judicial process.

    August 26, 2020

    Image of banner via Twitter

    DOWNLOAD PDF OF UA 133/20 HERE

    Juan Antonio López, Carlos Leonel George, Reinaldo Domínguez, José Adalid Cedillo and Marco Tulio Ramos are water defenders who belong to the Municipal Committee for the Defence of Common and Public Assets. They are facing trial for protecting the rivers in Tocoa (North). They risk being detained before their trial begins in which case they would be held in overcrowded prisons that do not meet adequate sanitary conditions to avoid the spread of COVID-19. Eight other defenders from the Committee have been in pretrial detention for almost a year. Amnesty International calls on the authorities to allow the 13 defenders to face trial without being imprisoned.

    On 13 August 2020, the defenders’ lawyers were notified that their appeal to dismiss the case was not successful. The five defenders stand accused of “aggravated arson” and “unjust deprivation of liberty” for defending the San Pedro and Guapinol rivers. Eight other defenders have been held in pretrial detention under the same charges since 1 September 2019. 

    August 25, 2020

    Triunfo de la Cruz. The community opposes the construction of largescale tourist projects and works to protect the economic, social, and cultural rights of the Garifuna communities. ©Amnesty International/Anaϊs Taracena

    DOWNLOAD PDF OF UA 123/20 HERE

    Unknown individuals wearing police-type clothing took four Garifuna activists from their homes on 18 July 2020. The activists are Alberth Snider Centeno Tomas, President of the Board of Triunfo de la Cruz on behalf of the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH), Suami Aparicio Mejía García, Gerardo Mizael Rochez Cálix and Milton Joel Martínez Álvarez, members of the OFRANEH, and a fifth person, Junior Rafael Juárez Mejía. Despite a search operation carried out by the National police and an investigation started by the Public Prosecutors Office, their whereabouts remain unknown.

    August 07, 2020

    Almost two weeks on from the illegal abduction of five men in an apparent case of enforced disappearance in the coastal town of Triunfo de la Cruz, Amnesty International is calling on the Honduran authorities to take urgent steps to locate them alive as soon as possible.

    “Testimonies suggest that the five young men were victims of enforced disappearance, allegedly at the hands of agents of the Honduran state security forces. If confirmed, this crime under international law would mark another atrocious chapter in the country's recent history,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

    “We demand that the Juan Orlando Hernández administration take urgent measures to find the five missing people, including four Garifuna activists from the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras, alive. The authorities must also carry out a swift, exhaustive, independent and impartial investigation to identify and punish all those responsible for planning and carrying out this crime. We cannot allow impunity to encourage endless cycles of violence and grave human rights violations.”

    July 16, 2020

    Kelly is a 24-year-old asylum seeker from Honduras. She fled the country when she was just 12 due to violence against her based on her transgender identity. After arriving in the U.S., immigration authorities detained her in August 2017 and locked her up while she waited for the results of her asylum claim. The campaign for humanitarian parole by Amnesty activists and her many local supporters stretched back many months. Calls for her release ramped up recently when Kelly feared becoming infected by COVID-19 because of the inadequate measures taken by authorities to protect detainees and staff from the virus. Her lawyer credits this campaign for her release; there was no judicial reason for freeing her.

     

    Here is Kelly right after her release from the detention centre in Colorado where supporters had set up a protest camp.  

     

    June 25, 2020

    COPINH’s “Utopía” facility in La Esperanza © Amnesty International/Sergio Ortiz

    DOWNLOAD THE PDF OF UA 109/20 HERE

    On 23 June 2020, the Civic Council of Popular Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) publicly denounced threats against their organization. The previous day, they received a digital flyer in which an unknown group threatened to burn down the organization’s “Utopía” facility in La Esperanza, Intibucá department after COPINH offered this space as an isolation center for people in prison infected with COVID-19. 

    Amnesty International urges the authorities to ensure the safety of COPINH members and investigate all attacks against them. The threat occurred in a context of several recent attacks which the organization publicly protested, and in a hostile environment for the defence of human rights in general due to the government’s measures to confront COVID-19.

    Please send an email or tweet to the Minister for Human Rights.

    April 11, 2020
    Activists from St. Mary's and Stratford hold a banner they created to attract attention and help them gather signatures for Justice for Berta. Learn more in this blog about other 'art builds' during our Day of Action for Berta

    Indigenous rights defender Berta Cáceres inspired many in her home country of Honduras, and around the world, as she courageously led efforts to stop construction of the Agua Zarca dam on a river not only sacred to the Lenca People, but vital to their survival. Berta was gunned down by contract killers on March 2, 2016.

    Bringing to justice everyone responsible for the killing of Berta is vitally important to end the impunity that fuels more killings of forest and water defenders. Front Line Defenders Global Analysis 2019 reports that 31 other defenders were killed in Honduras last year.

    Pressure from inside and outside Honduras is making a difference but more is needed! 

    January 10, 2020
    What do we do when members of the Río Blanco community in Honduras are threatened with death for seeking to stop construction of a dam that would destroy the environment on which all their rights depend? What do we do when community leader Rosalina Domínguez is attacked by armed men because she continues the campaign against the dam that was led by murdered Lenca water defender Berta Cáceres? What do we do when someone intentionally destroys the food crops that provide for the survival of 25 families who are part of the same struggle to stop the dam and protect Indigenous rights?

    We count on Urgent Action writers to ask the Honduran Minister of Human Rights to ensure the protection of these endangered people. (UA 64/19 of 10 May)

    In September, the minister convened a meeting with Rosalina and other members of COPINH (Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organization) to determine what security measures they would like.

    Good news!  Protection requested by the community has now been granted to Rosalina and other Río Blanco community members.

    December 13, 2019

    “Justice for Berta” is a rallying cry that has echoed across Honduras and around the world since the murder of iconic Indigenous water defender Berta Cáceres. 

    The Lenca leader was recognized internationally with a prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for her efforts to stop construction of the Agua Zarca dam on a river considered sacred and vital to the rights of her people. Back home, Berta got death threats. Then gunmen entered her home on March 2, 2016 and shot her to death.

    In a country where impunity for such crimes is the norm - and a green light for more deadly violence - at long last there has been a breakthrough.

    On December 2, seven men were sentenced to between 30 and 50 years in jail for their roles in the killing of Berta. 

    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 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

    DOWNLOAD PDF HERE

    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.

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