PBI-Canada following the appeals process this week for the criminalized Guapinol water defenders in Honduras
The Guapinol water defenders were to have a day in court on January 25.
On January 24, Bufete Justicia para los Pueblos tweeted: “Starting tomorrow, Monday, January 25, the La Ceiba Court of Appeals has 3 days to decide on the freedom of the Guapinol defenders. We hope that these magistrates will finally demonstrate judicial independence and release the water defenders.”
But now Tilly Metz, a Member of the European Parliament, has tweeted: “Still no progress in #Guapinol case. Today’s preliminary hearing for the environmental defenders has been cancelled. We only know that the court of appeal now has 3 days to resolve the file. The defenders must be released urgently!”
On December 18, 2020, eight Guapinol water defenders were in court regarding the pre-trial detention measures against them (seven have been held in jail since September 1, 2019, an eighth since December 8, 2018).
On December 19, 2020 the judge ruled that they would remain in jail.
It is that ruling that is now being appealed.
Guapinol Resiste explains: “National and international law clearly establishes that preventative detention should only be used in extreme circumstances when the Public Prosecutor’s Office has proven that the requirements for a custodial measure have been met, which has not happened in this case.”
It adds: “The appeal was filed immediately after Judge Guifarro’s December ruling, but was not transferred by the Tocoa Court to La Ceiba until last Friday, January 22. According to the Honduran Criminal Procedural Code, the Court of Appeals has three days to review the appeal and issue a ruling based on legal merit, not political and economic pressure.”
The Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) has also highlighted that the detention of these human rights defenders constitutes an “arbitrary measure contrary to international human rights standards and due process guarantees.”
Bufete Justicia para los Pueblos has further tweeted: “The appeal against Zoé Guifarro’s ruling to maintain preventive detention is in the hands of La Ceiba magistrates. They must resolve by Wednesday [January 27].”
The water defenders are being held for their peaceful participation in a protest camp to protect the water sources that originate in the Carlos Escaleras Mountain National Park from the Inversiones Los Pinares iron oxide mine.
PBI-Honduras has been accompanying various processes in relation to the defenders of the Guapinol River for the past 23 months.
PBI-Canada continues to watch with great concern.