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Court of Appeals Must Favorably Resolve Writ of Amparo and Immediately Release Guapinol Defenders

- For Immediate Release -

Court of Appeals Must Favorably Resolve Writ of Amparo and Immediately Release Guapinol Defenders

December 22, Honduras

The eight water defenders from Guapinol and Sector San Pedro must be released immediately by means of the appeal for protection that was presented today to the Court of Appeals of La Ceiba by the defense team. Magistrates Irasema Guillen, Jimmy Chirinos, Rubenia Galeano, Garin Enoc Urquia must suspend the unsubstantiated ruling of the Tocoa lower court Judge Zoé Guifarro and release the defenders for violation of their fundamental rights established in the Constitution of the Republic and International Treaties on Human Rights.

The legal team has turned to the court in La Ceiba as a result of the ruling made on December 19 by Judge Guifarro, which was not legally sound and lacked justification. She declared the petition to substitute the preventive measure of pretrial detention without merit, stating the legal defense provided no new elements to consider during the hearing. However, the judge failed to make a detailed analysis of the defense's arguments and did not consider the bond they offered, clearly demonstrating her connection with Walter Sánchez and Angie Destephen of the Tocoa Prosecutor's Office to criminalize the defenders in order to advance the economic interests of the Inversiones Los Pinares mining company which operates in the area without the consent of the affected population.

During the hearing, which was held on December 18, neither Prosecutor Sanchez nor the lawyer for Inversiones Los Pinares presented well-founded legal reasons for maintaining the precautionary measure of preventive detention. There are no legitimate elements for the application of the precautionary measure, as clearly outlined by the defense team and independent legal experts. The ruling does not respect international conventions nor constitutional and legal rights.

As result, on December 20, the defense team filed an appeal to revoke the ruling. However, Judge Guifarro denied the processing of the appeal, citing the suspension of legal terms for the year-end vacations. Dissatisfied with her decision, and citing Article 128 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the defense attorneys argued that the vacation term does not apply to criminal matters and that there should be an immediately resolution. They filed the writ of amparo directly to the Appeals Court on December 22.

According to the regulations established in Article 51 of the Honduran Constitutional Justice Law, the Court of Appeals of La Ceiba must now immediately session and admit the appeal for protection - no defendant may be deprived of judicial protection against a violation of his or her rights.

Zoé Guifarro's arbitrary ruling is not isolated, but adds to a series of illegalities that have been evident in the case since the mining company began developing projects in a protected area without first consulting the affected population as required by law. The Appeals Court in La Ceiba must immediately rectify her ruling and release the Guapinol defenders.


The petition for a writ of amparo is a remedy available to any person whose right to life, liberty and security is violated or threatened with violation by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee, or of a private individual or entity.

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