IACHR Grants Precautionary Measures in Favor of Rights Defenders from the Municipal Committee for the Defense of Common and Public Goods in Tocoa, Honduras

October 6, 2023

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued Resolution 55/2023 on October 5, 2023, to grant precautionary measures in favor of 30 members of the Tocoa Municipal Committee for the Defense of Common and Public Goods and of the organization Bufete Justicia para los Pueblos in Honduras, in the belief that they face a serious, urgent risk of suffering irreparable harm to their rights.

According to the party who requested these precautionary measures, members of the Committee are active in the defense of environmental rights and articulate public and judicial complaints about mining and other extractive projects. Members of the organization Bufete Justicia para los Pueblos, in turn, serve as legal representatives for the Committee and for various other groups of environmental rights defenders in Honduras.

Both institutions have been subjected to death threats, tracking, surveillance, harassment, and other acts of violence in recent years, while doing their work as environmental rights defenders and legal representatives. The violence persists to this day. Some of the beneficiaries have allegedly not been granted protection measures by the State, while the protection measures that have indeed been granted to others are reportedly not being adequately implemented.

The State reported on several measures that had been adopted to address this situation. It has allegedly granted protection measures through its own Protection Mechanism, including a police contact, police patrols, and a police escort. The State further said that a reassessment of the risks was pending and would eventually be submitted to the Protection Mechanism's Technical Committee.

The IACHR commended the State on the measures it had taken in favor of beneficiaries. However, the IACHR noted that beneficiaries' vulnerability persists, given that measures are not being adequately implemented and have proved insufficient to protect beneficiaries, considering their situation and the risks they face. The IACHR further stressed the need to continue to investigate the allegations that have given rise to the adoption of these precautionary measures. Consequently, in keeping with Article 25 of its Rules of Procedure, the IACHR asked the State of Honduras to take the following action:

  1. Adopt any measures necessary to protect the rights to life and personal integrity of specifically identified members of the Tocoa Municipal Committee for the Defense of Common and Public Goods and of the organization Bufete Justicia para los Pueblos
  2. Take all protection measures necessary for beneficiaries to be able to continue to do their work in defense of human rights without suffering threats, intimidation, harassment, and other acts of violence
  3. Come to an agreement with beneficiaries and their representatives concerning any measures that need to be taken
  4. Report on any actions adopted to investigate the alleged events that gave rise to the adoption of these precautionary measures, in order to prevent such events from happening again in the future

The fact that these precautionary measures have been granted and their adoption by the State do not entail a prejudgment on a potential petition that may be filed before the inter-American system to allege violations of rights protected by the American Convention on Human Rights and other applicable instruments.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 241/23

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