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Sign On: Demand Immediate Attention to Situation of Risk for Defenders in Honduras

Sign the statement to demand immediate attention to the situation of risk against river defenders in Guapinol, Sector San Pedro and Tocoa. No more lethal and unpunished extractivism! Our solidarity with the family of Oqueli Dominguez and those who accompany the struggle. Sign here:

The Observatory for Justice of the Guapinol River Defenders and national and international organizations call on the State of Honduras to implement forceful measures to reverse sustained violence against the communities of Guapinol, Sector San Pedro and Tocoa.

The Americas, June xx - The Observatory for Justice for the Guapinol River Defenders and the undersigned human rights organizations condemn the murder of Oscar Oquelí Domínguez Ramos, defender of the rivers and common goods of Guapinol and Sector San Pedro, reported this June 15 in the morning at his home. Catalina Ramos, his mother, was also wounded in the armed attack. We also express our solidarity with the family and people who accompany him in this struggle for justice and dignity.

The context of systematic violence against human rights defenders in Honduras has been documented for years through the efforts of national and international organizations and collectives, as well as by the Human Rights Protection Systems. In 2023 alone, 8 murders have been registered against human rights defenders in the Bajo Aguán area.

Particularly, those who defend territories, common goods and the environment are subject to multiple risks for the work they do, since extractive companies, which have dispossessed land and deteriorated the human rights situation in the territories, have economic interests that override human dignity. Specifically, we have documented the worrying presence of Inversiones Los Pinares and Ecotek, both part of Grupo EMCO, in the territories, and which have been identified as operating under irregular concessions granted by the Honduran State.

Therefore, the undersigned organizations maintain that this outrageous attack is not isolated. Oquelí Domínguez was the brother of Aly Domínguez, who was murdered on January 7, 2023 along with Jairo Bonilla. To date, no progress has been made in the investigations into these unfortunate events. Oquelí was also the brother of Reynaldo Domínguez, who was criminalized by the Honduran State for his defense of the Carlos Escaleras National Park. Criminalizing human rights defenders is already a systematic practice, whose objective is to restrict and punish the exercise of the right to defend human rights in Honduras.

We point out that the murder of Oquelí Domínguez follows an increase in threats against the defenders of the Municipal Committee in Defense of Common and Public Goods. The Committee has expressed its concern to the corresponding national protection bodies, but to date, the Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders in Honduras has not assumed a role to guarantee and prevent the risk in the conflict zone. It is alarming that the State does not respond to its international obligations to address its outstanding debt with the community of human rights defenders in Honduras, even though it has been condemned on several occasions by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, specifically in light of the cases of Carlos Escaleras and Jeannette Kawas vs Honduras.

Recently, from April 24-28 of this year, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights conducted an on-site visit to Honduras, after having received an invitation from the Honduran government. During this visit, the IACHR observed the urgent situation faced by environmental defenders in Bajo Aguán, listening to testimonies of forced displacement, criminalization, threats and the relatives of defenders murdered for their work in defense of human rights.

It is urgent that the imminent risk in the communities of Guapinol, Sector San Pedro and Tocoa is recognized and Honduran authorities immediately grant measures to address the situation.

The Observatory for Justice of the Guapinol River Defenders and the undersigned organizations demand that the State of Honduras recognize its obligations regarding access to justice and the guarantee of life and integrity of the communities of Guapinol , Sector San Pedro and Tocoa. The state presence in the conformation and implementation of real and sustained measures to reverse this terrible situation is necessary. Displacing people who remain at risk is not an option. The State of Honduras has the responsibility to address the origin of the risk that has kept socio-environmental conflicts under national and international scrutiny and as one of the various causes of killings of human rights defenders in the country.

We demand that the State of Honduras effectively and immediately address the situation in Bajo Aguán and guarantee the life and integrity of those who inhabit the territories and defend the commons. In particular, we demand immediate protection for the Domínguez family, including Catalina Ramos, who witnessed the crime against her son Oquelí and victim of this same attack. We demand the cessation of harassment and threats, as well as protection for all members of the Municipal Committee in Defense of the Common and Public Goods of Tocoa and their families, due to the serious risk they face for their work in defense and protection of the Botaderos Mountain. We also call for a prompt, effective and impartial investigation into the murders of Oquelí Domínguez Ramos and those who remain unpunished.

From the Observatory we express our solidarity to the Domínguez family, to the Municipal Committee for the Defense of Common and Public Goods of Tocoa and to those who accompany them. Thank you for allowing us to walk with you in this struggle for water and for life.

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