The Committee of the Families of the Detained and Disappeared in Honduras, COFADEH, in this second vigil of 2017 in the Plaza of the Pañuelos Blancos in Tegucigalpa, joins in supporting the statement issued yesterday in San José Costa Rica by 33 Central American leaders and social organizations.
Human rights organizations and civil society from the throughout the region gathered at the Forum for Rights, declared their concern for the official reactions in response the Global Witness Report: “Honduras – The Deadliest Place to defend the planet.”
Following the release of this document which identifies close links between politicians, functionaries and business people in Honduras who have benefited from concessions, exonerations, extractive industry markers, tourist complexes, dams and mono crops, there has been a campaign of threats and attacks that could degenerate in to other lamentable actions.
Of particular concern are the declarations of the government Coordinating Minister, Jorge Ramón Hernández Alcerro, who discredited the validity of the report, questioned the objectivity of sources, the legitimacy of their motives and encouraged impunity by denying the existence of the 123 environmental defenders who have been murdered.
The declarations of José Galdámez, Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, who has asked the Attorney General, Oscar Fernando Chinchilla, to file a complaint regarding “accusations made by the Director of Advocacy for Global Witness, Billy Kyte” and “that if he does not present himself to make a statement regarding the facts asserted in the report that the Public Ministry should proceed to issue an order to detain him” are also regrettable.
Also deplorable are the warnings of the ex-vice president of the National Congress – the actual president of the Central Committee of the National Party — Gladys Aurora López, who threatened to sue the executives of Global Witness for mentioning her name among the list of politicians and business people benefiting from traffic of influences in the powers of the Honduran state to change environmental legislation in order to personally benefit from predatory projects in ancestral territories.
These public statements on the part of government functionaries coincide with the dissemination of posters and false profiling in social media with anonymous attacks against the family of Berta Cáceres, community and human rights organizations that accompany the struggles of indigenous peoples in the west of Honduras as well as agencies of international solidarity that support this work.
The attacks obligated the United Nations Special Rapporteurfor Human Rights Defenders, Michel Forst, to issue a public call to “understand that the new Report from Global Witness is essential to understand the dramatic situation of those who defend human rights in Honduras.”
As human rights organizations working in similar contexts throughout Central America, we demand that the Honduran authorities recognize the valuable contribution of human rights defenders in the development and strengthening of the rule of law, especially the struggle against impunity which is the principal objective of the Global Witness investigation.
We also demand that the Public Ministry, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the Mission of Accompaniment against Corruption, MACCIH, based in Honduras, carry out an independent investigation into the cases denounced in relation to illegal and violent practices of businesses in the mining, dams and tourist industries identified in the report.
We exhort the National Mechanism of Protection for Human Rights Defenders to take urgent measures to protect the lives and integrity of the functionaries of Global Witness, the leaders of organizations that have given testimony in their report, members of the Lenca Indigenous Movement of la Paz (MILPAH), the Broad Movement for Dignity and Justice (MADJ), the Tribe of LOCOMAPA, the Garifuna people of Barra Vieja, the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), the Honduran Center for the Promotion of Communitarian Rights (CEHPRODEC), and other indigenous organizations including those who were witnesses and direct sources of information for the report.
Tegucigalpa, M.D.C., February 3, 2017.
De los hechos y de los hechores, ni olvido ni perdón