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Trial of Guapinol River defenders to conclude this Friday in Honduras

Following the conclusions, the court should issue its acquittal - based on the facts presented in the case - immediately thereafter.

For immediate release -

February 2, 2022

Trial Concludes Friday
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The defenders invite everyone to join their trial. #GuapinolResiste #GuapinolInocente #FreedomForGuapinol

Just as the Guapinol River Defenders completed 29 months of arbitrary detention (38 months in the case of Jeremías), we were notified that the hearing to present the conclusions in their sham trial will be held this Friday, February 4 at 8:30am at the Tocoa Court.

Read more about our Solidarity Gathering at the Supreme Court on February 1, 2022 here.

Your presence is needed to help us continue to push for transparency and judicial independence in the Defenders' case. We know that if an objective court were hearing this trial, there would be no doubt that the defenders would be acquitted. However, after more than 29 months of arbitrary detentions and countless illegal rulings, we know that there are dark interests influencing the Honduran Judiciary and Public Ministry in this case and only with strong support and demand for a ruling based on the law can we hope to have justice.

According to the Observatory for Justice of the Guapinol River Defenders, a group of national and international experts in criminal law and human rights that has monitored the trial of the defenders, it is important to emphasize the duty to analyze the evidence in light of the principle of innocence, a fundamental basis for due process in criminal matters and as established in Article 8.2 of the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights. For this group, "we identify serious and profound inconsistencies and contradictions" in the declarations of the witnesses of the Public Ministry, contradictions about the existence of weapons by the private security of the mining company, and evidence to attest to the non-violent behavior of the defenders of the Guapinol River on the day of the events. The Observatory questions the capacity of this evidence of the Public Prosecutor's Office to prove beyond doubt the participation of the criminalized defenders in any illegal action on the day of the events. Read the Observatory's newsletters here. Watch their video analysis here. Read Honduras Now's analysis of the trial and daily summaries here.

On Friday the conclusions will be presented before the Court of Ricardo Rodriguez Barahona, Henry Geovanny Duarte Zaldivary Franklin Marvin Araliz Santos, who have already issued numerous arbitrary resolutions against the defenders, including that to illegally maintain the preventive detention without legal basis. Now they have the opportunity to correct their mistakes and demonstrate that they are capable of resolving according to the law with an acquittal. On Friday, the defenders will also have the opportunity to give a closing statement if they so wish. When the hearing concludes, the Court should go out to deliberate and, in accordance with the criminal code, immediately issue its verdict. We reject any attempt by the Judiciary, the MP or the private prosecution - Los Pinares - to delay the verdict. We demand a sentence without delay, based on the law and the facts presented in this trial - NOT another arbitrary sentence aimed at punishing the defenders to benefit Los Pinares which is operating through acts of corruption and without the consent of the community - as clearly demonstrated in the trial - in Carlos Escaleras National Park. The truth of the September 7, 2018 incident has been clearly demonstrated and we demand a fair trial, a just sentence and freedom for the defenders.

This week we had an important meeting with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the National Human Rights Obmudsperson and the Minister of Human Rights. They reiterated their support for the defenders of the Guapinol River, criminalized for protecting water and the environment. Read more here.

As the trial draws to a close, the company is desperately and dangerously attacking. Lenir Perez/Los Pinares, part of the Emco Group, has issued false and defamatory press releases, while the national media is publishing outlandish claims in favor of the company in what appears to be paid advertising. Online defamation campaigns against the defenders and the Municipal Committee have increased, while we have documented intimidation and threats at the local level against the defenders, their families, the Municipal Committee, the legal team and others who are accompanying the judicial process.

The stakes are high and we know that this ruthless company is willing to do whatever it takes to ensure that its mining operations continue. Only together, as a collective fighting for clean water and respect for human rights, can we stand up to the greed and dark power behind the criminalization of our compañeros.

What you can do:

- Join us at the Tocoa Courthouse on Friday, February 4 at 8:30am to support the defenders, the families and the Municipal Committee as the conclusions are presented. There will be live streaming of the hearing through the Guapinol Despierta Facebook page which will be played outside the courthouse at the Justice and Freedom for the Guapinol River Defenders Camp.

- If you can't be there in person, leave your comments online during the broadcast on the Guapinol Despierta page to let the authorities know you are watching the audience. Use #GuapinolInocente #LibertadParaGuapinol.

- Join our Global Day of Action for Freedom and Justice for Guapinol. Use Twitter to send a message of support and demand for Judicial Independence Sample text:

#Honduras: Trial of Guapinol River Defenders in arbitrary detention 29 months for protecting water concludes today. We demand a fair and immediate ruling based on facts presented in the trial, not influenced by powerful economic interests. #GuapinolololInocente @PJdeHonduras

- Demand that your embassies, on behalf of thousands of people who are closely observing the trial, be in Tocoa during this important moment.

- Encourage others to make public statements in support of justice and freedom for the Guapinol River Defenders.

Media Contact: Arleth Molina +504 3160 3851

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