PBI-Honduras report highlights Canadian-backed Mining Law as “the most regressive in the region”

Published by Brent Patterson on

PBI-Honduras has published an English version of its report: Breaking Down In Order to Rebuild. The Human Rights Situation in Honduras.

The report reflects on the current situation in Honduras following the swearing-in of its new president Xiomara Castro on January 27, 2022.

The 60-page report has eight chapters including on corruption and impunity, freedom of expression, LGBTI+ rights, and access to a clean and healthy environment.

In that last chapter, the report notes (on page 34): “According to an analysis by researchers from the University of Wageningen [in the Netherlands], Honduras’s General Mining Law is one of the most regressive in the region.”

It continues: “The law, which was approved in 2013 and reformed in 2019 when six articles were declared unconstitutional, continues to suffer from numerous issues.”

Then on page 35, the report adds: “In a message published by MiAmbiente in February 2022, the government of Honduras declared a ban on open-pit mining. It also stated its intention to revise, suspend, and cancel the environmental licenses of existing mining projects, a very important initiative in light of the 130 concessions located within or next to indigenous territories, according to data from FOSDEH.”

It then cautions: “However, the lack of an executive decree leaves the initiative without the official support of the executive branch, and with little clarity on when and how the decision will be applied.”

Canada and the General Mining Law

MiningWatch Canada has explained: “The General Mining Law was developed with technical assistance paid for with Canadian overseas development aid. Its passage in 2013 lifted a seven-year moratorium on any new mining projects.”

It also noted: “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.”

Tyler Shipley in his book Ottawa and Empire also writes: “By 2012, Canada’s role in developing the new mining code was public knowledge.”

Among the concerns expressed by Honduran groups including PBI-Honduras accompanied CEHPRODEC: “The law fails to ensure the protection of natural areas and water sources vital for human consumption and other uses health” and “imposes limits on citizen participation and contradicts provisions for environmental conservation by prohibiting areas free of mining from being created for any length of time.”

The Escazu Agreement

On page 37, the PBI-Honduras report notes among the “opportunities and the role for the international community” is to “call upon the government of Honduras to sign and ratify the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean (The Escazú Agreement).”

It highlights: “Honduras is one of nine countries in the region that have neither signed nor ratified the agreement.”

Ambassador Norton

On March 5, 2021, Canada’s Ambassador to the UN Leslie E. Norton stated at a session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva: “Some states have established specific protection mechanisms to prevent risks and attacks against HRDs 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.”

We encourage Canada to continue to publicly endorse the Escazu Agreement.

The Declaration on the Rights of Peasants

Additionally, in the chapter on the food crisis, PBI-Honduras highlights (on page 31) that the international community should “promote the incorporation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and other People Working in Rural Areas into national legislation.”

That Declaration was adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 2018.

The resolution in support of the Declaration was approved by 119 votes in favour, 7 votes against and 49 abstentions.

Canada was one of the abstentions.

We encourage Canada to review its position and support the incorporation of the Declaration into national legislation in Honduras.

The full PBI-Honduras report can be read here.

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