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Supreme Court orders freedom for Guapinol River defenders in Honduras

February 10, 2022

Tocoa, Honduras

The case of the Guapinol River Defenders should never have gone to trial because Lisseth Vallecillo, the judge who initially ordered a formal indictment against the defenders - and consequently ordered the arbitrary preventive detention - did not comply with due process since she was not the competent judge to hear the case, according to the ruling of the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice issued today. The ruling annuls the trial which ended yesterday in a guilt verdict for six of the eight water defenders and they should all now benefit from a definitive dismissal in order to be released immediately.

We demand that reparations be made to the defenders and that those responsible for their illegal detention be investigated, prosecuted and sanctioned, and that the illegal mining license for Los Pinares in Carlos Escaleras National Park be immediately revoked.

The political and judicial persecution against water defenders has been marked by the illegalities of prosecutors and judges in collusion with Los Pinares mining for more than three years. The persistence and strength of the defenders, who have insisted in their innocence and their legitimate right to defend water for their communities and families in the face of an illegal mining project, of their families who have not for one minute stopped demanding freedom and justice while facing smear campaigns, stigmatization and threats, and of the civil society organizations accompanying them, has led to this victory.

We will continue to fight until the judicial resolution is complied with and the defenders are released from the Olanchito Penal Center. Join us and follow us on social networks to stay informed.

Press contact: Brenda Miralda +504 3274 3273

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