Today the sentencing court in Trujillo, in the department of Colón, northern Honduras, found six of the eight prisoners of conscience known as the “Guapinol eight”, José Daniel Márquez, Kelvin Alejandro Romero, José Abelino Cedillo, Porfirio Sorto Cedillo, Ewer Alexander Cedillo, Orbin Nahún Hernández, guilty of the crimes of illegal deprivation of liberty and aggravated damages against the contractor of the company Inversiones Los Pinares (ILP), and simple and aggravated damages against ILP. The sentences will be determined on 21 February. The other defendants Arnol Javier Alemán and Jeremías Martínez Díaz were acquitted and should be released immediately.
“This verdict is outrageous and goes against Honduras’ obligations to guarantee the right to defend human rights. It must be overturned immediately. We will not stop demanding this of the authorities until all of the Guapinol defenders are immediately and unconditionally released,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.
The Honduran authorities must stop using the justice system to criminalize, intimidate and harass human rights defendersErika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International
“It’s extremely serious that, despite the lack of diligence in the investigations by the Public Prosecutor’s Office, six of the Guapinol prisoners of conscience are facing prison sentences. The defenders are victims of arbitrary detention and unfounded criminal prosecution, stemming solely from their legitimate work defending the right to water and a healthy environment in Honduras.”
“The Honduran authorities must stop using the justice system to criminalize, intimidate and harass human rights defenders.”
Amnesty International recognized the eight defenders as prisoners of conscience after reviewing the available evidence, including the criminal proceedings against the Guapinol eight and videos related to the case, and having spoken to witnesses as well as the Honduran human rights community.
The organization sent a letter to the Honduran Attorney General after the trial began on 1 December 2021, expressing concern about serious irregularities in the investigation and prosecution of the Guapinol eight. Amnesty International believes that the eight prisoners of conscience were detained solely for their work defending the right to clean water and a healthy environment, and that the criminal charges against them, as well as their prolonged pre-trial detention, are unjustified and constitute a misuse of the justice system.
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Duncan Tucker: [email protected]