PBI-Honduras notes at UN Canada’s call for Honduras to prevent the criminalization of human rights defenders

Published by Brent Patterson on

On March 16, Andrea Regina Pineda presented on behalf of Peace Brigades International to the UN Human Rights Council regarding the adoption of the report on Honduras by the Universal Periodic Review Working Group.

Pineda is a lawyer with the Honduran Centre for the Promotion of Community Development (CEHPRODEC), which has been accompanied by PBI since May 2014.

Pineda stated: “Peace Brigades International welcomes the important recommendations made to the state of Honduras.”

Criminalization of human rights defenders

Pineda highlighted: “We would like to underscore the following recommendations. …Belgium, Canada and Norway on investigating and convicting the crimes of defenders and specifically the murder of Berta Cáceres, a recommendation from Costa Rica. We remember the importance to also investigate the intellectual authors of these crimes.”

Among the recommendations from Canada noted in the UPR Working Group report:

“104.78 Increase efforts to ensure the independence of the judicial system, strengthening the investigation of and prosecution for acts of corruption and human rights violations, and prevent the criminalization of human rights defenders and community and Indigenous activists to ensure they are able to operate in a safe environment (Canada).”

Escazu Agreement

Pineda also noted that Ireland had called for the ratification of the Escazu Agreement.

While Canada did not make this recommendation to the UPR, Canada’s Ambassador to the UN Leslie E. Norton told the Human Rights Council earlier this month:

“Some states have established specific protection mechanisms to prevent risks and attacks against HRDs [human rights defenders] and to intervene when need be. Canada wants to stress these important milestones such as the Escazu Regional Agreement in Latin America and the Caribbean.”

Canada and mining in Honduras

This article by PBI-Switzerland (also posted by PBI-Honduras), notes:

“Pineda is concerned that more and more areas are being illegally occupied and used for mining and that the Honduran state is failing in this regard. According to the Observatory for Natural Resources and Human Rights created by CEHPRODEC in 2017, the Honduran state issued 302 concessions for mining over an area of ​​over 2,000 square kilometers. Most of these have been exhibited without prior free, informed consultations. The consequences are more land conflicts, arrests and the criminalization of people who rebel against mining companies that threaten their land.”

In April 2014, MiningWatch Canada’s then Latin America program coordinator Jennifer Moore spoke to a Canadian parliamentary committee about the Honduran mining law that was passed in post-coup Honduras in January 2013.

Moore stated: “This law was developed and passed with strong diplomatic support from the Canadian embassy, and with contributions from the Department of Foreign Affairs and the former Canadian International Development Agency.”

Next steps

In her presentation to the UN, Pineda concluded: “It is important that the UPR recommendations be followed.”

To watch her presentation, click here (chapter 16, 00:24:54).

PBI-Switzerland advocacy coordinator Kim-Mai Vu reports that Honduras received 223 recommendations during its UPR, accepted 203 of them, and took note of 20. It accepted all the recommendations regarding the protection of defenders.

On August 30, 2019, PBI-Honduras posted: “Yesterday we accompanied CEHPRODEC to an annual march in which hundreds of people from the communities protested against the extractivism that, they say, threaten the territories and natural resources.”

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