For immediate release
Judge Must Rule Today to Release Guapinol Water Defenders in Honduras
December 19, 2020
Today, Judge Zoé Guifarro has the obligation to rule according to the law and release the Guapinol defenders who have been deprived of their liberty for more than 15 months. During the bond hearing held on Friday, December 18, the legal defense team requested that the precautionary measure of pretrial detention be changed based on Article 93 of the Constitution of the Republic, which states that all persons must be judged free if they offer sufficient bond, which the defenders offered. The defenders do not present a risk of fleeing, nor can they hinder the investigation of alleged events that took place more than two years ago. There is no legal basis for the remand measure.
We denounce the collusion to punish people who defend water and the environment in Honduras by the Public Ministry of Tocoa and the mining company Inversiones Los Pinares who argue without legal foundation that the defenders should remain detained.
Independent studies and experts warn that the Honduran state could be violating international law by applying preventative detention in this case. Just today, the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights, Mary Lawlor, sent a message to the judiciary reminding the state that defending rights is not a crime.
She was joined by the embassies of the United States, Canada, the European Union, Spain, France, and Germany in Honduras, as well as by Euro-parliamentarians and international legislators urging the State to respect due process and release the defenders. Yesterday, seventy international and national organizations reiterated this call, demanding an end to preventative detention and the criminalization of human rights defenders in Honduras. At the same time, they reminded the State of Honduras of its obligation to ensure the physical integrity of the families of defenders and of the persons who are members of the Municipal Committee for the Defense of the Common and Public Goods of Tocoa.
Today, we demand a legal ruling based on what was presented, not a political decision to accommodate the extractive companies in the area. There can be no other resolution than freedom for the Guapinol Defenders.