Peace Brigades International accompanying the trial of the Guapinol 8 water defenders in Honduras

Published by Brent Patterson on

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We are following on a daily basis the trial of the eight protectors of the Guapinol River who have been criminalized and imprisoned for peacefully defending the river against pollution from the Inversiones Los Pinares iron oxide mine.

Global Witness has explained: “On 7 September 2018, a peaceful protest camp set up to oppose the mine was stormed by armed security guards employed by the mining company. One of the protestors was shot and seriously injured. The Honduran police, rather than investigate and prosecute the instigators of this violence, have instead targeted the peaceful protestors themselves.”

This past February, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said that the detention of the Guapinol 8 was arbitrary, breached a number of human rights standards including the guarantee to a fair trial, and called for their immediate release.

We further highlight that Erika Guevara-Rosas of Amnesty International says: “I have reviewed all the evidence available. We believe that they are being detained solely for their activities in defence of the right to clean water and a safe environment.”

Day 1 – December 1

After 27 months in pre-trial detention, the Guapinol 8 faced their first day on trial on charges of aggravated arson against Santos Hernandez Correa (Los Pinares security guard), unjust detention of Correa, and aggravated arson in damage to Los Pinares.

Guapinol Resiste reported: “Before it could open the trial, the defense clarified that the Public Ministry still does not comply with the court order to deliver the means of evidence that will be used in the trial against the defenders, violating their rights to due process. MP responded by insisting on withholding the pending expert report with arguments that have no legal basis and was once again ordered to hand over the information to the legal team of the defenders, which they must do immediately to guarantee their right to a fair trial.”

Day 2 – December 2

The trial was delayed until December 9 because the Public Ministry (MP) did not have the evidence ready to hand over to the defence.

Criterio reported: “After three years of the events that led to the arbitrary detention of the eight defenders of the Guapinol and San Pedro rivers, the Public Ministry said on the second day of the trial against the environmentalists that it still cannot make available the means of evidence against the accused before the Court and the defense team.”

Day 3 – December 9

Honduras Now reported: “Despite there being no electricity in the court and the inability to publicly broadcast the trial, all parties decided to begin the trial. The prosecutors begin by formalizing the charges against the eight accused water defenders followed by the defense’s response to the official accusations.”

That update further noted that the prosecution then added an additional charge of aggravated damages to Inversiones Los Pinares. The defence argued this is not procedurally permitted, but the court ruled in favour of the prosecution.

Day 4 – December 10: The court is expected to rule on the request by the defence to reconsider acceptance of the fourth accusation against the defenders.

We continue to watch closely from Canada.

For continuous updates, please also see Guapinol Inocente ¡exigimos #Libertad! and Observatorio Justicia Para Guapinol on Twitter.

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