World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 

Honduras: Release Guapinol Defenders And Honour Pledges Made To UN – Human Rights Experts

GENEVA (19 November 2021) –UN human rights experts* today urged Honduras, elected to the Human Rights Council last month, to release eight environmental defenders in line with recommendations made by another UN body.

“As a new member of the UN Human Rights Council, Honduras should be redoubling efforts to clean up its human rights record, and an obvious first step is to release the Guapinol defenders,” said Mary Lawlor, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.

The defenders were placed in pre-trial detention two years ago for opposing an iron oxide mine inside a protected national park in Tocoa, a municipality in the country’s northern Colón department. The defenders – Jeremías Martínez Díaz, José Daniel Márquez Márquez, Kelvin Alejandro Romero Martínez, José Abelino Cedillo, Porfirio Sorto Cedillo, Orbín Nahúm Hernández, Arnold Javier Alemán and Ewer Alexander Cedillo Cruz – come from the community of Guapinol on the Guapinol River, polluted by the mine.

They belong to the Municipal Committee for the Defence of Common and Public Goods (CMDBPC), a network of local groups dedicated to land and environmental defence. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said in February that their detention was arbitrary and breached a number of human rights standards including the guarantee to a fair trial. Delivering an official Opinion in the case, the Working Group called for their immediate release.

However, a Honduran court in August extended their preventive detention; they are to go on trial on 1 December 2021.

The Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises raised concerns on this specific case following its visit to Honduras in 2019. It recommended that the government of Honduras take immediate measures to protect the life and integrity of human rights defenders working to protect the rights of communities, their land or the environment in the context of development projects. It also called for prompt and impartial investigations of cases involving threats and violence against them.

“Since the beginning, serious questions have been raised about the basis of the charges and the impartiality of court rulings,” said Lawlor. “There appears to be no justification of the extension of their detention. In fact, the continued detention of the Guapinol environmental defenders discredits Honduras’ efforts to improve the situation for human rights defenders.”

When the General Assembly elected Honduras to the Human Rights Council for the first time in its history last month, the country made a number of pledges to strengthen international human rights mechanisms and compliance with global human rights instruments.

In addition to failing to honour the opinion of the Working Group, Lawlor noted that Honduras has not yet ratified the Escazú Agreement, the first legally binding instrument in the world to include provisions on environmental human rights defenders. She also noted the historical recognition of the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment by the Human Rights Council on 8 October 2021 through the adoption of a resolution.

“How can Honduras be expected to promote meaningful engagement with international mechanisms if it is unwilling to do so itself?” asked Lawlor. She is in contact with the Honduran authorities on the Guapinol issue.

Her call was endorsed by: Mr. Pedro Arrojo Agudo, Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation; Mr. David R. Boyd, Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment; and Ms. Elina Steinerte (Chair-Rapporteur), Ms. Miriam Estrada-Castillo (Vice-chairperson), Ms. Leigh Toomey, Mr. Mumba Malila, Ms. Priya Gopalan, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

 

*Ms Mary Lawlor (Ireland) is the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders. She is currently an Adjunct Professor of Business and Human Rights in Trinity College Dublin. She was the founder of Front Line Defenders - the International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders. As Executive Director from 2001-2016, she represented Front Line Defenders and had a key role in its development. Ms. Lawlor was previously Director of the Irish Office of Amnesty International from 1988 to 2000, after becoming a member of the Board of Directors 1975 and being elected its President from 1983 to 1987.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

UN: Violations Of Palestinian Rights Puts Two-State Solution At Risk, Chief Warns
The situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, continues to pose a significant challenge to international peace and security, United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, said on Monday... More>>



Oxfam: Afghanistan Faces Multiple Crises

ActionStation, Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand, Christian World Service, Oxfam Aotearoa and World Vision New Zealand say that while Afghanistan faces chronic poverty, persistent droughts, war, the Covid-19 pandemic and an economic crisis, winter is about to bring a whole new set of challenges...More>>

AFTINET: New COVID Strain Postpones WTO Meeting

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial Meeting scheduled for November 30-December 3 has been postponed indefinitely because the new Omicron strain of the COVID-19 virus in African countries with low vaccination rates prevents many African and other delegations from attending the meeting...
More>>


Focus On: UN SDGs

Food: Three Billion People Cannot Afford A Healthy Diet

Approximately three billion people, almost 40 per cent of the world’s population, cannot afford a healthy diet and another one billion people would join their ranks should further unpredictable events reduce incomes by one-third, the UN food agency said, launching a new report on Tuesday... More>>

COP26: Enough Of ‘Treating Nature Like A Toilet’ – Guterres Brings Stark Call For Climate Action To Glasgow
As the World Leaders Summit opened on day two of COP26, UN chief António Guterres sent a stark message to the international community. “We are digging our own graves”, he said, referring to the addiction to fossil fuels which threatens to push humanity and the planet, to the brink, through unsustainable global heating... More>>


Climate: ‘Vague’ Net Zero Promises Not Enough: Planet Still On Track For Catastrophic Heating, UN Report Warns

New and updated commitments made ahead of the pivotal climate conference COP26 in the past months are a positive step forward, but the world remains on track for a dangerous global temperature rise of at least 2.7°C this century even if fully met, a new report by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has warned... More>>