Protect Brave Honduran River Defenders!

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Author: Antonio Saadipour Sellés

Brave leaders defending their communities’ rivers in Honduras from environmental damage from a mining company are facing being thrown in jail while they await trial. Already, eight community leaders have been locked in pre-trial detention for over a year. Now, a judge has revoked a measure protecting five additional community leaders from pre-trial detention. These defenders of the Guapinol and San Pedro Rivers represent just a handful of victims in a country where the rights of environmental defenders are violated every day.

They came forward voluntarily and deserve to await trial in liberty!

What is Happening?

On August 13, the Court of Appeals revoked a dismissal in favor of Juan Antonio López, Carlos Leonel George, Reinaldo Domínguez, José Adalid Cedillo and Marco Tulio Ramos, all of whom belong to the Municipal Committee for the Defense of Common and Public Assets. This brings the total of water defenders subjected to illegal detainment to 13. Aside from the blatant disregard for their human rights and due process, to throw people in jail in the middle of a pandemic for defending sources of fresh water for communities of thousands is cruel and unusual punishment, especially considering there are over 1,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Honduran prisons. Thanks to Amnesty International for their alert on this issue.

Here’s what you do:

We need you to send two emails: one to the Attorney General of Honduras and another to the Ambassador of Honduras to the United States. See below for detailed instructions!

Contact Information:

  • Mr. Oscar Fernando Chinchilla
    • Attorney General
    • Email:
  • Ambassador Marlon Ramsses Tábora Muñoz
    • Embassy of Honduras
    • 1250 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington DC 20036
    • Send an email here.

Sample Email/Letter:

  • “Dear Attorney General/Ambassador,I am disturbed to learn about the unjust pre-trial detention of community leaders struggling to defend their local rivers and lands from pollution from a mining company.  On 13 August 2020, I understand that a Court of Appeals revoked a dismissal in favor of Juan Antonio López, Carlos Leonel George, Reinaldo Domínguez, José Adalid Cedillo and Marco Tulio Ramos. They belong to the Municipal Committee for the Defense of Common and Public Assets and are accused of “aggravated arson” and “unjust deprivation of liberty” for defending the San Pedro and Guapinol rivers. Eight other defenders have been in pre-trial detention under the same charges for over a year. These defenders have no place in overcrowded prisons. Moreover, pre-trial detention during the COVID-19 outbreak, with over 1,000 cases confirmed in prisons, will put their lives and health at risk. United Nations human rights experts have recommended governments consider alternative measures to pre-trial detention to reduce risk of spreading COVID-19. In addition, I understand that the Court of Appeals ratified the dismissal for the crime of illicit association for all the defenders, which was, until now, one of the legal justifications to maintain the eight defenders in preventive detention. I call on you to take steps to ensure the 13 defenders can defend themselves in liberty and to guarantee their right to a fair trial. Thank you for considering my concerns.Yours sincerely,
    [First and Last Name]

Honduras is one of the deadliest countries in the world for land and environmental defenders. They face threats, violence, and smear campaigns and are regularly targeted by the government. Stand up and speak out for the Guapinol defenders to make sure justice is delivered and to help build a judicial system in Honduras that protects its citizens rather than do the dirty work of corrupt elites.

P.S. – Share our alert with your family, friends, and colleagues to increase visibility on this issue. Don’t forget to post on social media as well or share our posts on Facebook and Twitter.