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When will justice be done for the Guapinol 8? Two years of arbitrary detention in Honduran Prison for opposing dangerous mining project

The Guapinol 8 – a group of Honduran environmental defenders - have already endured two years of excruciating incarceration for trying to protect their community’s only source of safe drinking water from pollution caused by private business interests.

Some of the innocent men from Guapinol who are being unlawfully detained for peacefully protesting the exploitation of their communities river Some of the innocent men from Guapinol who are being unlawfully detained for peacefully protesting the exploitation of their communities river

The Guapinol 8, also known as the Guapinol water defenders, were detained two years ago for peacefully protesting the exploitation of their community’s natural resources. Despite repeated calls for the release of the eight men, the Honduran Supreme Court has recently extended their pretrial detention period for an additional six months.

There is no substantiated evidence against the Guapinol water defenders. The accusations are fabricated and have served to repress the legitimate resistance movement in favour of profiteering.

For generations, the Guapinol community has relied on this river for their supply of freshwater. The Guapinol river, which flows through the Carlos Escaleras National Park, is an integral part of daily life for Guapinol locals

However, in 2014, the lives of locals dependent on the water source, were put at risk when Honduras gave a mining concession in the Carlos Escaleras National Park to Honduran company Inversiones Los Pinares (ILP).

Despite the park being protected by law, and without consultation with locals, the project was given the go-ahead. The community mobilised to protect the river that keeps it alive.

Since mining began, the water has become contaminated, potentially compromising the health of locals. The community is continuously monitored by drones and security for ILP.

The mining company is owned by one of the most powerful families in Honduras and objections by local environmental and land defenders have been met with criminalisation and the threat of violence for trying to protect their community.

Now eight innocent men face continued imprisonment in a dangerous Honduran prison for peacefully protesting the mining of iron oxide where they source their drinking water.

All the Guapinol detainees have been formally recognised in Honduras as human rights defenders. Since September 2019, their lawyers have worked tirelessly to have the men freed. But despite submitting several appeal and attending three pre-trial detention review hearings, the men continue to be detained.

The Corporate Abuse of Human Rights in Honduras Must End

Communities across Honduras continue to face environmental and corporate abuse from large corporations. The country is known as one of the most dangerous places in the world for land and environmental defenders. According to the latest Global Witness report, Honduras has the highest per capita murder rate of these human rights defenders in the world. The lack of justice for the many activists killed and attacked in Honduras for defending ancestral land rights and the environment remains systemic.

Trócaire – through its partner organisation Fundación San Alonso Rodríguez (FSAR) – has been supporting the Guapinol community with advice and training on environmental rights and legal advice and defence fees. According to the lawyers working on the case, the Honduran courts and the government have conspired to protect the financial interests of the wealthy at the expense of ordinary people trying to protect their community’s future. Community members and families of the Guapinol 8 have been victims of harassment by the Honduras security forces as well as a smear campaign which is putting them at risk.

Solidarity and visibility from the international community have been among the strongest defences against this corruption and impunity and are needed now more than ever.

Trócaire will continue to support them and their community until they are free and the rights of the community are recognised and protected.

The ‘Guapinol 8’ are:

Porfirio Sorto Cedillo, José Avelino Cedillo, Orbin Naún Hernández, Kevin Alejandro Romero, Arnold Javier Aleman, Ever Alexander Cedillo, Daniel Marquez and Jeremías Martínez Díaz.

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