The arbitrarily detained Guapinol River defenders to spend Christmas in prison

Published by Brent Patterson on

PBI-Honduras visits Jeremías Martínez in La Ceiba prison, November 2021.

This Christmas Eve day we continue to follow the situation of the eight criminalized defenders of the Guapinol River in Honduras.

These defenders are being criminally prosecuted for peacefully protesting the installation of an open-pit iron oxide mine in Carlos Escaleras National Park after contamination of the Guapinol River and the San Pedro Sector appeared.

Seven of the defenders incarcerated since September 1, 2019, are being held in the Olanchito prison, while an eighth defender held since December 8, 2018, is at La Ceiba prison.

On the morning of December 14, PBI-Honduras was present as the legal team representing the eight defenders of the Guapinol River filed a habeas corpus writ on the illegality of the continued detention of the defenders in prison.

At that time, the Municipal Committee for the Defense of the Common and Public Goods Legal Defence Team explained: “According to the Criminal Procedural Code, the constitutional action of Habeas Corpus must be resolved immediately, regardless of the upcoming vacation period of the Judiciary.”

It then highlighted: “The Plenary must meet immediately and issue a resolution to release Guapinol’s defenders so that they can finally spend this Christmas with their families after more than 27 months of arbitrary detention.”

But on December 20, Criterio reported: “The Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice went on vacation without having resolved the habeas corpus presented on Tuesday, December 14, by the legal team of the eight defenders of Guapinol.”

That article adds: “The legal body will not return until January 5, 2022, said the lawyer of the justice firm Justice for the Peoples, Edy Tabora.”

Tabora says the action is “one more arbitrariness” in a series of arbitrary actions against the defenders and that the court’s refusal to resolve the appeal shows “how it treats legal situations in the country with total contempt.”

He says: “We as a legal team will continue to insist that this appeal must be resolved and that it must be resolved as mandated by the Constitution and also as we said complying with the resolution of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions.”

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

From Canada, we continue to follow the incarceration and trial of these defenders with great concern.

PBI-Honduras visits Guapinol defenders in Olanchito prison, August 2021.

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