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HONDURAS: “Justicia para los Pueblos” law firm denounces intimidation in the trial of the Guapinol Defenders’ case

The Honduran law firm “Justicia para los Pueblos” is specialised in the legal assistance of peasant and indigenous populations in Honduras. The law firm has been representing for more than XX years, environmental defenders and peasants who have seen their rights violated by the state or by the management of macro energy projects.

The law firm “Justicia para los Pueblos” filed a complaint before the National Human Rights Commissioner of Honduras (CONADEH) on Monday 24 January, alleging intimidation of the legal defence team by armed men inside the courts of Tocoa, in the department of Colón, where the trial of the 8 environmental activists detained in the “Guapinol” case is being held.

This complaint, presented by lawyers, Carlo Jiménez, Mario Rojas and Kenia Oliva, described two armed men who, without identifying themselves at any time entered with the public prosecutor. When asked to identify these armed men, the public prosecutor stated that they were protecting an expert and the Public Prosecutor’s Office itself. The prosecutor refused to reveal the identity or security affiliation of these individuals. This incursion is not only irregular but also criminal in appearance, according to those involved.

The Guapinol case, named after the arrest of 8 environmental defenders defending the river of the same name, has taken over the media spotlight from the Berta Cáceres case in Honduras and the exposure faced by the colleagues of “Justicia para los Pueblos” law firm has taken on an international level.

The Observatory strongly condemns the intimidation reported by the “Justicia para los Pueblos” Law Firm.

The Observatory calls on the Honduran authorities to ensure that intimidation of the Guapinol case legal team ceases.

The Observatory reminds the Honduran authorities that the independence of lawyers is one of the essential elements of the rule of law. This is in accordance with the United Nations Principles for the Role of Lawyers (1990):

Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference. ” (Principle 16).

“Where the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities. “(Principle 17)