Urgent Action: Honduran State Continues to Criminalize Human Rights Defenders

This is a translation of the Urgent Action released by COFADEH this morning regarding the criminalization of human rights defenders in the case of the Environmental Committee of the Siria Valley. Contacts for US and Canadian Embassies with representation in Honduras have been added to the action. (The original version in Spanish is below.)

PROAH (Honduras Accompaniment Project) accompanied COFADEH lawyers to hearings for the detained members of the Siria Valley Environmental Committee on July 5, 2011. COFADEH is expressing deep concern for the continued criminalization of the human rights defenders involved (members of the Siria Valley Environmental Committee). Additional background information on the case (in English) can be found here. Additional background to the case, in Spanish, can be found on COFADEH’s human rights journalism site.

Members of the community gather outside the police station in Talanga where members of the Siria Valley Environmental Committee were being held.
Committee of Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared in Honduras
COFADEH
Urgent Action:

Honduran State Continues to Criminalize Human Rights Defenders

The Committee of Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared in Honduras (Cofadeh) expresses its repudiation and concern for the Honduran State’s systemic practice of qualifying the most basic actions defending of nature and the rights accorded by the Constitution of the Republic as disturbing the peace, sabatoge and terrorism.

Various legal tools and policies are being used to inhibit the work of human rights defenders. In this particular case, defenders of the environment Carlos Danilo Amador and Marlon Hernández were detained by police, with warrants, between 6:30 and 7:00 AM on their way to work on charges of obstructing the excecution of an environmental management plan. Juan Ángel Reconco was detained in the early afternoon on the same charges. All are members of the Environmental Committee of the Siria Valley. Another 15 environmental defenders, also members of the committee, also have warrants out for their arrest on the same charge, and are at risk of arrest.

The charges are related to incidents that occured on April 7, 2010, when 600 residents of the Municipality of El Porvenir prevented logging of trees that protect the mini-watershed of the Guayabo Stream, known as el Tapalito, in the village of El Terrero. This source supplies water for human consumption to six comunities in the municipality, directly affecting 10,000 residents who have been protecting this forest for years. This protection was formalized on December 27, 2007 in an agreement with then AFE-COHDEFOR (State Forestry Administration – Honduran Corporation for Forestry Development), the Municipality of El Porvenir, and the residents.

The Environmental Committee and the affected communities consider that the management plan granted to Hayde Urrutia Mejía by the Honduran State is illegal because it deos not comply with the prerequisites established in the Forestry, Protected Areas and Wildlife Law, which requires an Environmental Impact Assessment including the participation of the population that could be affected by the project or activity under review. They also consider the management plan illegal due to irregularities regarding land tenancy.

The environmentalists in question are facing charges of Obstructing the Execution of a Management Plan, which carries a penaly of 4-6 years in prison according to article 186 of the above mentioned law. In the hearing that took place on July 5, 2011, Judge Ingrid Quiroz Banegas imposed precautionary measures on the defendants, including the requirements that they present themselves and sign-in at the courthouse every 15 days, do not leave the country, do not approach the mini-watershed of Tapalito, and do not approach the person, family, or dwelling of the beneficiary of the Management Plan, Hayde Urrutia Mejia.

In this particular case the justice system has not acted objectively and is instead favoring the executive branches of the state and criminalizing civil protest in the name of national (and international) interests, while the national (and international) interests in question are the precisely the reason for concern and protest on the part of the people and communities of the municipality of El Porvenir and leaders of the Environmental Committee of the Siria Valley.

Cofadeh is requesting the national and international community to demand that: 1) the Honduran State take the necessary measures, including implementation the required mechanisms, to guarantee personal freedom, due process, and the right to defend human rights to Carlos Danilo Amador, Marlon Hernández, Juan Ángel Reconco and all other members of the Siria Valley Environmental Committee; 2) cease all acts of retaliation against them; and 3) guarantee in general the right to defend universally recognized human rights as established in the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, approved in 1998, and similar OAS Resolutions emitted in 1999 and 2000.

Please direct letters, calls and faxes to Honduran Justice officials and diplomatic representatives of your country of residence:

Fax and phone numbers are listed with calling codes from the US or Canada

Jorge Alberto Rivera Avilés
President of the Supreme Court
Tel: 011-504-2269-3000, 011-504-2269-3069
Email: cedij@poderjudicial.gob.hn

Luis Alberto Rubí
Attorney General
Fax: 011-504-2221-5667
Tel 011-504-2221-5670 or 011-504-2221-3099
E-mail: lrubi@mp.hn
gsuazog@mp.hn

CANADA:

Ambassador Cameron MacKay

Canadian Embassy in Costa Rica (also responsible for Honduras):

Tel: 011-5062242-4400

Email: sjcra@international.gc.ca,Cameron.MacKay@international.gc.ca

Fax: 011-506-2242-4411 – Political Affairs

UNITED STATES:

U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa, Honduras

Telephone: 011-504- 2236-9320, 011-504-2238-5114

Fax: 011-504-2236-9037

With copies to:
Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras (COFADEH)
Barrio La Plazuela, Avenida Cervantes, Casa No. 1301
Apartado Postal 1243
Tegucigalpa, HONDURAS
Fax: 011-504-2220-5280 (call by phone and ask for “tono de fax, por favor”, then hang up and send the fax to the same number)
E-mail: berthacofadeh@yahoo.com

Barrio La Plazuela, Avenida Cervantes, casa 1301, teléfono (504) 2220- 5280,
Tegucigalpa, Honduras


ORIGINAL  TEXT OF URGENT ACTION
 
Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras
COFADEH

Acción Urgente:

Estado de Honduras Continúa Criminalizando Defensores de Derechos Humanos

El Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras (Cofadeh), expresa su total repudio y preocupación por la sistemática practica del Estado de Honduras de denominar protesta, alteración del orden, sabotaje y terrorismo, a las más elementales acciones de defensa de la naturaleza y de sus derechos como consta en la Constitución de la República.

Con diferentes herramientas jurídicas y policíacas se busca inhabilitar el trabajo de los defensores de derechos humanos en esta ocasión fueron capturados a las 6: 00 a.m., con orden judicial, los defensores del ambiente Carlos Danilo Amador, Marlon Hernández y Juan Ángel Reconco, miembros del Comité Ambiental del Valle de Siria, junto a ellos 15 defensores ambientales mas enfrentan proceso criminal.

Acción que se basa en hechos ocurridos el 07 de abril de 2010, cuando 600 miembros del Municipio del Porvenir impidieron que se cortaran los arboles que protegen la micro cuenca “Quebrada el Guayabo”, el Tapalito, ubicada en la Aldea El Terrero y que abastece de agua para el consumo humano a seis comunidades de ese municipio, afectando en forma directa a 10,000 personas que han estado protegiendo este bosque por años y que se formalizó con el Convenio firmado el 27 de diciembre de 2007, entre la entonces AFE/ COHDEFOR, La Municipalidad del Porvenir y los pobladores.

El Comité Ambientalista y las comunidades afectadas consideraban que el plan de manejo otorgado a Hayde Urrutia Mejía por el Estado de Honduras es ilegal porque no cumple con los requisitos establecidos en la Ley Forestal, Aéreas Protegidas y Vida Silvestre que manda la realización de un estudio de impacto ambiental con la participación de la población que pueda resultar afectada por el proyecto o la actividad a realizar. Así mismo por irregularidades en la tenencia de la tierra.

Los ambientalistas enfrentan el delito de Obstaculización a la Ejecución de Planes de Manejo, cuya pena es de 4 a 6 años de reclusión de acuerdo con el artículo 186 de la Ley supra descrita. En la Audiencia judicial celebrada este día, la Juez Ingrid Quiroz Banegas, les impuso medidas sustitutivas a la prisión, entre estas presentarse cada 15 días a firmar a ese juzgado, no salir del país, no acercarse a la micro cuenca el Tapalito, y no acercarse a la beneficiaria del Plan de Manejo Hayde Urrutia Mejía.

El sistema judicial en el caso concreto, no ha actuado objetivamente en tanto favorece al poder ejecutivo, al criminalizar la protesta en nombre de los intereses nacionales. Sin tomar en consideración que es precisamente los intereses nacionales el motivo de preocupación y protesta de pueblos y comunidades del municipio del Porvenir liderados por el Comité Ambientalista del Valle de Siria.

El Cofadeh solicita a la comunidad nacional e internacional exigir al Estado de Honduras tome las medidas necesarias y mecanismos efectivos para garantizar la Libertad Personal, el debido Proceso y el ejercicio de Defensa de los derechos humanos de Carlos Danilo Amador, Marlon Hernández, Juan Ángel Reconco y los demás miembros del Comité Ambientalista del Valle de Siria que han sido procesados. Suspenda todo acto de represalias en su contra. Y garantice en forma general el derecho a defender los derechos humanos universalmente reconocidos, como lo establece la Declaración Universal de los Defensores de las Naciones Unidas, aprobada en 1998 y las Resoluciones de la OEA de 1999 y 2000.

Sus llamamientos:

Jorge Alberto Rivera Avilés
Presidente de la Corte Suprema de Justicia
Tel: +(504) 2269-3000 o +(504) 2269-3069
Mail: cedij@poderjudicial.gob.hn

Luis Alberto Rubí
Fiscal General de la República.
Fax +(504) 2221-5667
Tel +(504) 2221-5670 2221-3099
Mail: lrubi@mp.hn
gsuazog@mp.hn

Envíen también copia a la representación diplomática de Honduras acreditada en sus países:

CANADA:

Embajador Cameron MacKay

Embajada de Canadá en Costa Rica (también responsable para Honduras):

Tel:             +(506) 2242-4400

Mail: sjcra@international.gc.ca, Cameron.MacKay@international.gc.ca

Fax: + (506) 2242-4411 – Asuntos politicos

ESTADOS UNIDOS:

Embajada de los Estados Unidos en Honduras

Tegucigalpa, Honduras

Tel: +(504) 2236-9320 o +(504) 2238-5114

Fax: +(504) 2236-9037

Y copia a:

Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras (COFADEH)
Barrio La Plazuela, Avenida Cervantes, Casa No. 1301
Apartado Postal 1243
Tegucigalpa, HONDURAS
Fax:+(504) 2220-5280 (solicite: “tono de fax”)
Mail: berthacofadeh@yahoo.com

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