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22 Jul 2021

Mirage News

Honduras: UN experts call on government to stop criminalization of Garífuna community in relation to private projects in conflict with their ancestral property

"Honduras must stop criminalizing defense of indigenous rights, say UN experts", 09 July 2021

...UN experts...called on Honduras to stop arbitrarily detaining and criminalising human rights defenders of the Garifuna indigenous communities. The Garifuna, who number about 300,000 in Honduras, are an ethnic group of mixed African and indigenous heritage. In 2015 the Inter-American Court of Human Rights recognised the violation of human rights of the Garifuna communities and ordered a set of reparations, including the delimitation, demarcation and titling of traditional lands, but Honduras has not yet implemented those measures. Mary Lawlor, UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, spoke out after the arrest of Marianela Mejía Solórzano, Jennifer Sarina Mejía Solórzano and Silvia Bonilla, defenders of the territory and rights of the Garifuna people, and members of the Black Fraternal Organisation of Honduras (OFRANEH). The Public Prosecutor´s Office has accused the defenders of robbery with violence or intimidation, usurpation, damage and threats. According to the information received, the investigations arise from the conflict related to the possession, use and owenership of certain lands for which there are both private property titles and an ancestral property title in favour of the community of Cristales and Río Negro...“Honduras must stop misusing criminal law to persecute human rights defenders and to stigmatise the Garifuna community,” Lawlor said. “These three brave defenders are being persecuted for the work they are carrying out to defend human rights among the Garifuna people and now they face long term detentions.” Francisco Cali Tzay, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, agreed that “five years after the assassination of Berta Cáceres, Garifuna communities and those engaged in defending their rights continue to face violence, attacks and persecution.” The Rapporteurs urge the authorities to provide effective protection for all human rights defenders in Honduras, especially those who continue to fight for indigenous, women’s and environmental rights...

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