Honduras: Indigenous leaders face unjust charges

UA: 244/13 Index: AMR 37/012/2013 Honduras Date: 12 September 2013

URGENT ACTION

Indigenous leaders face unjust charges

Three Honduran indigenous leaders face unfounded charges in relation to their actions as human rights defenders. A hearing is scheduled to take place on 12 September. If they are imprisoned, Amnesty International will consider them prisoners of conscience.

Bertha Cáceres, Tomás Gómez and Aureliano Molina are facing unfounded criminal charges for the alleged crimes of usurpation, coercion and continued damages (usurpación, coacción y daños continuados) against a company running a hydro-electric power project on indigenous land. They are also accused of inciting others to commit these crimes. Based on their testimonies and the information received from various sources, including from the authorities, Amnesty International believes they are being criminalized in reprisal for their leadership and human rights work in defence of the Lenca indigenous people.

Bertha Cáceres is the general coordinator of the Civic Council of the Indigenous and Popular Organizations of Honduras (Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras COPINH), and well-known for her work promoting the human rights of the Lenca indigenous people in north-western Honduras. Tomás Gómez and Aureliano Molina are also members of COPINH, community leaders, human rights defenders and work for community radio stations La Voz Lenca and Guarajanbala.

COPINH has been active since 1993, fighting for higher standards of living for the Lenca indigenous people and defending rights to territory, natural resources and the environment. The Lenca indigenous communities of Río Blanco and Santa Barbara department have been demonstrating since April against a hydro-electric power project. The project is situated on the land where they have lived for centuries and the community say they did not give free, prior or informed consent. In July the army opened fire during a peaceful demonstration by COPINH, killing indigenous leader Tomás Garcia and wounding his teenage son.

Amnesty International has previously expressed concerns regarding misuse of the justice system to prevent, restrict or punish these three leaders for their defence of human rights. Despite receiving written responses, Amnesty International believes the authorities have not adequately addressed concerns.

Please write immediately in Spanish or your own language:

Urging the authorities to cease all unfounded criminal proceedings against Bertha Cáceres, Tomás Gómez and Aureliano Molina in light of their legitimate role as human rights defenders;

Stating that Bertha Cáceres, Tomás Gómez and Aureliano Molina will be considered prisoners of conscience if they are imprisoned.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 24 OCTOBER 2013 TO:

President

Porfirio Lobo Sosa

Casa Presidencial, Barrio Las Lomas

Boulevard Juan Pablo II

Tegucigalpa, Honduras

Fax +504 2290 5088

Attorney General

Oscar Chinchilla Banegas

Ministerio Público, Lomas del Guijarro

Avenida República Dominicana

Edificio Lomas Plaza II

Tegucigalpa, Honduras

Fax: +504 2221 5667

Twitter: @MP_Honduras

Salutation: Dear Attorney General / Sr Fiscal General de la República

Salutation: Dear President / Sr Presidente

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please insert local diplomatic addresses below:

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