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14 Feb 2023


Honduras: IACHR condemns killings of at least 5 land defenders and calls on the State to investigate them diligently and effectively

"IACHR Condemns Murders of Rights Defenders in Honduras", 14 February 2023

...The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the murders of at least five defenders of land rights and territorial rights in Honduras in 2023 so far. The Commission calls on the State to investigate these events effectively and with due diligence and to protect human rights defenders in the country. According to publicly available reports, the five activists who were killed focused their efforts on the defense of rights linked to land, territory, and/or the environment...

...On January 29, Ricardo Arnaúl Montero, a defender of the rights of Garifuna Afro-indigenous communities and a member of the Land Defense Committee, was murdered in the Triunfo de la Cruz community in Tela, Atlántida. On January 18, Omar Cruz Tomé, a peasant leader and land defender who was president of Los Laureles Cooperative, was murdered in Tocoa, Colón. On January 7, environmental and territorial rights defenders Aly Domínguez and Jairo Bonilla were murdered in the Guapinol community, also in Tocoa.

...The Commission is concerned that these events have happened in a context of historical violence that constantly affects rights defenders in Honduras, particularly in the Bajo Aguán region and in Garifuna territories. The IACHR has identified acts of violence ranging from harassment and threats to criminalization through an unwarranted use of criminal law and to attacks on personal integrity and murders. According to the reports the Commission has had access to, the Bajo Aguán region has been particularly affected by violence since February 2022, when the government, the organization Plataforma Agraria, and the Aguán Cooperative of Peasant Organizations (COPA) signed an agreement.

...[T]he Inter-American Court of Human Rights asked the State to take all necessary measures to effectively protect the rights to life and personal integrity of Garifuna communities...The State must adopt as a line of investigation the potential link between the violence and victims' efforts as rights defenders. Similarly, the State must adopt a differentiated ethnic–racial approach when investigating, trying, and punishing these crimes...