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Eight UN Experts Condemn Honduras for Actions in Guapinol Case, Call for Release of Defenders

For immediate release

In an official communication sent today to the Honduran State, eight UN experts condemned Honduras' actions in the Guapinol case for failing to release the environmental defenders even after being urged to do so by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and after taking a place on the Human Rights Council.

"Since the beginning, serious questions have been raised about the basis of the charges and the impartiality of court rulings,” said Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders. “There appears to be no justification of the extension of their detention. In fact, the continued detention of the Guapinol environmental defenders discredits Honduras’ efforts to improve the situation for human rights defenders.”

The submission, supported by Mr. Pedro Arrojo Agudo, Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation, Mr. David R. Boyd, Special Rapporteur on HumanRights and the Environment, as well as the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which includes Ms. Elina Steinerte (Chairperson-Rapporteur), Ms. Miriam Estrada-Castillo (Vice-Chairperson), Ms. Leigh Toomey, Mr. Mumba Malila, Ms. Priya Gopalan, states:

"As a new member of the UN Human Rights Council, Honduras must redouble its efforts to improve the human rights situation in the country. A first step would be to release the Guapinol defenders."

The UN experts, recognized for their long-standing expertise in their specific fields, noted that Honduras has not taken concrete steps in the Guapinol case and has also failed to adopt the Escazú Agreement. They noted that the defenders - Jeremías Martínez Díaz, José Daniel Márquez Márquez, Kelvin Alejandro Romero Martínez, José Abelino Cedillo, Porfirio Sorto Cedillo, Orbín Nahúm Hernández, Arnold Javier Alemán and Ewer Alexander Cedillo Cruz - live near the Guapinol River, which has been contaminated by mining activities. Their trial is scheduled to begin on December 1 with deep concerns regarding lack of judicial independence and due process guarantees.

*** Translated with (free version) ***

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