Criminalisation of human rights defenders in Honduras

Who we wrote to

The president of the Republic of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández.

What’s the issue

We’re concerned about the growing number of attacks against human rights defenders in Honduras, which have increased since the elections in November 2017.

We’re concerned over various cases involving human rights defenders from Organización Fraternal Negra Hondurena (OFRANEH) in the community of Guadalupe.

In November 2016 Medalime Martina David Fernández, a member of OFRANEH, and three other members of the Garifuna community of Guadalupe were accused of criminal land trespassing in proceedings involving the company CARIVIDA. On 30 November 2016 the court of Trujillo authorised dismissal of the case.

However, on 4 May 2017 this decision was reversed by the Second Court of Appeal of La Ceiba, Atlántida who charged Ms David Fernández with precautionary measures, banning her from leaving the country and requiring her to appear before a judge every 15 days.

In November 2017 the Siguatepeque court ruled in favour of 16 members of the Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras (COPINH) who were accused of misappropriation and exploitation of natural and forest resources in La Jarcia.

In September 2017, several activists and students of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras were accused of concealment and attack against the State of Honduras, because they exercised their right of freedom of expression and association.

What we asked for

We urged the relevant authorities to:

  • ensure that the relevant and appropriate investigations are carried out and due process is respected in the cases regarding communities in Guadalupe, La Jarcia and San Pedrito
  • clarify the events involving members of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras so that those responsible are brought to justice
  • ensure lawyers and human rights defenders in Honduras can carry out their professional activities and rightful advocacy without intimidation, harassment or unlawful criminalisation of their activities
  • consider amending the article of the Criminal Code which defines a terrorist organisation, and bring it into line with international and regional human rights standards
  • respect the right to peaceful assembly and association, including in protest, of all citizens in Honduras

Timeline

November 2016 – Medalime Martina David Fernández and three other members of the Garifuna community of Guadalupe were accused of criminal land trespassing in proceedings involving the company CARIVIDA

30 November 2016 – the court of Trujillo authorised dismissal of the case

4 May 2017 – decision reversed and Ms David Fernandez charged with precautionary measures and banned from leaving the country

September 2017 – activists and students of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras accused of concealment and attack against the State of Honduras

November 2017 – the Siguatepeque court ruled in favour of 16 members of COPINH who were accused of misappropriation and exploitation of natural and forest resources in La Jarcia