Honduras: Finally, the Bajo Aguán defenders are declared innocent!

Yesterday, 7 June, the third division of the trial court determined the innocence of the Bajo Aguán farmers in their defence work. It could not be proven that they had committed the crimes of illegal demonstrations and property damage against the state of Honduras for which they had been accused and brought to trial.

During the trial, it was clearly shown that the charges against the farmers were ambiguous and vague. These defenders had been criminalised for 3 years, and during that time were not only subjected to measures limiting their individual freedoms, they lost the resources and energy they needed to defend themselves.

Unfortunately, it is not only in Honduras that criminal law is used to criminalise social protest; it is a phenomenon that extends throughout nearly all of Latin America. FIDH recently published a report on this subject, which is available here.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (FIDH-OMCT) urges the judiciary of Honduras to not be an accomplice to the inappropriate criminalisation of human rights defenders, and to undertake a critical review of its court system with regard to the need to impart justice which respects the equality of all parties, and which does not favour the interests of political and economic powers.

The Observatory was present through a Judicial Observation Mission to witness the public oral trial. They are grateful to the FIDH member organisations in Honduras, The Committee of Relatives of the Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH) and the Centre for Research and Promotion of Human Rights (CIPRODEH), and congratulate them on their work in defending and accompanying the individuals in this case.

The details of what was observed in the trial and of the case itself will be included in the Observatory’s report on the situation of human rights defenders in Honduras, which will be published in a few months.

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