CCAJAR calls on Honduran judicial authorities to recognize COPINH as a victim in the Fraud on the Gualcarque trial

Published by Brent Patterson on

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COPINH tweet: “Press conference: Positioning of COPINH before the start of the ‘Fraud on the Gualcarque’ trial. COPINH and the Río Blanco community continue to be denied the right to participate as a victim in this process.”

The Peace Brigades International-Honduras Project has posted: “On August 17, the ‘Fraud on the Gualcarque’ trial will start for acts of corruption in the concession of the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project on the Gualcarque River.”

It adds: “The Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) and the Río Blanco community continue to be excluded from the process as victims whose rights were violated for more than 10 years.”

COPINH has asked to be accepted as a victim in this trial.

COPINH co-founder Berta Caceres was murdered in March 2016 for her opposition to this dam on Lenca territory.

The trial will reportedly look at the irregularities in the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project, including acts of corruption in which permits and licences were authorized as well as violations of the Indigenous right to free, prior and informed consent.

On August 16, the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective (CCAJAR) and other organizations in Guatemala and Honduras urged Honduran judicial authorities to recognize COPINH as a victim of the acts of corruption being prosecuted.

Their letter notes: “The former manager of hydroelectric company Desarrollos Energéticos S.A. (DESA), David Castillo, was recently sentenced as a co-perpetrator of Cáceres’ murder. He and other individuals will stand trial for fraud, abuse of power, falsification of public documents, and use of false documents in the licence of the Agua Zarca project.”

“Nevertheless, this hearing will begin without the participation of COPINH, which was excluded as a victim in the trial since August 2019.”

It further highlights: “Denied its rightful place in this corruption trial, COPINH is prevented from accusing the perpetrators of corruption responsible for the injustices suffered—wrongdoing that amounts to human rights violations.”

The amicus curiae letter from CCAJR, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Centre for Human Rights Legal Action (CALDH) and the Centre for Research and Promotion of Human Rights (CIPRODEH) can be read here.

Earlier this month, about 70 organizations highlighted in this letter that Honduran law establishes the right of civil societies to be recognized as victims requested that the Constitutional Chamber “resolve expeditiously and within the framework of legality” the amparo filed by COPINH on this matter in 2019.

One of the signatories to that letter is Lawyers Without Borders Canada.

PBI-Colombia has accompanied CCAJAR since 1995.

PBI-Honduras has accompanied COPINH since May 2016.

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