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9 Feb 2022

The Guardian

Honduras: Water defenders from Guapinol are found guilty for opposing a mining project by Inversiones los Pinares

Guapinol Resiste

"UN rapporteur ‘appalled’ by convictions for Honduran environmentalists who opposed open-pit mine", 09 February 2022

...Six Honduran environmentalists have been found guilty of crimes against a mining company, in a case widely condemned by legal and human rights experts.

The activists, from the small community of Guapinol, have been held in pre-trial detention for two and a half years after opposing an iron oxide mine which has polluted rivers relied upon by thousands of people.

The huge open-pit mine, which is owned by one of the country’s most powerful couples, sits inside a protected national park in Tocoa, a municipality in the country’s northern Colón department. It was sanctioned without community consultation in a process mired by irregularities...

“The defenders are victims of arbitrary detention and unfounded criminal prosecution, stemming solely from their legitimate work defending the right to water and a healthy environment in Honduras,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

“It’s extremely serious that, despite the lack of diligence in the investigations by the public prosecutor’s office, six of the Guapinol prisoners of conscience are facing prison sentences.”

Mary Lawlor, the UN special rapporteur on human rights defenders, said she was “appalled”, especially given Honduras last month took its seat the UN human rights council.

“Honduras has yet again stained its record by not adhering to agreed international obligations. The conviction of the six Guapinol defenders should be quashed,” she said.

The defence intends to seek an amnesty for the convicted men, through a controversial law just passed by the new president.

Defence lawyer Edy Tabora said: “All eight men are innocent. The prosecutors failed to provide any evidence of a crime, never mind their participation in any activity that could be considered a crime. This is a political verdict that demonstrates the power of economic elites in this country”..

The company Inversiones Los Pinares did not immediately respond for comment on the verdict...