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ALERT: New arbitrary resolution puts Guapinol trial in jeopardy

Trujillo Court arbitrarily orders the transfer of the Guapinol trial to restrict peaceful assembly and demands for transparency. Español here.

In ruling to move the location of the trial with the purpose of preventing public protest aimed at demanding publicity, transparency, and due process guarantees, the Trujillo Court clearly demonstrates that it should not hear the trial of the Guapinol Defenders in yet another arbitrary action.

November 11, 2021

We denounce the arbitrary decision of the Trujillo Court to move the trial of the Guapinol and Sector San Pedro Water Defenders to the city of La Ceiba with the purpose of preventing the families of the arbitrarily detained water defenders from being present during the judicial process.

Judges Franklin Marvin Arauz Santos, Ricardo Rodríguez Barahona and Henry Geovany Duarte Zaldivar have notified the legal defense team that they will change the location of the trial, scheduled for December 1-14, 2021, to La Ceiba to prevent peaceful protests that could occur. The decision to move the trial is intended to hinder the right to freedom of association of citizens concerned about the arbitrary detention of the defenders, the lack of due process in their judicial process, and the ongoing environmental damages caused by Emco Group's open-pit mining in Carlos Escaleras National Park.

After more than 2 years of arbitrary judicial decisions in this case, and the failure of the State to comply with the Resolution of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to immediately release the defenders, the families and accompanying individuals and organizations have been forced to protest peacefully in front of the court time and again to make the case visible and demand judicial independence and compliance with the obligations of the Judiciary to guarantee due process.

It is worth noting that the Trujillo Sentencing Court has repeatedly denied and omitted the request to guarantee the publicity and transparency of the trial, which has been made in advance of hearings by various national and international human rights organizations.

The Court, under the direction of Suprem Court President Rolando Argueta, is making clear its lack of independence and its commitment to punish environmental defenders in order to benefit Emco Group/Lenir Perez and Ana Facusse.

We denounce that there are no conditions for this trial to develop respecting the principles of independence and judicial impartiality. Just a few days ago, the judges demonstrated that they were willing to break legality with their unfounded decision to keep the defenders in pre-trial detention.

With this latest ruling and the notification of the arbitrary transfer, we are convinced that this Court should not hear the trial of the Guapinol and San Pedro River Defenders. We demand an independent and transparent trial in a proper courtroom in Tegucigalpa where there can be guarantees of publicity and transparency and with on-site observation.

We demand the immediate release of the defenders, they are innocent!

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