El Progreso and San José, November 18, 2013.- The Inter-American Court of Human Rights again condemned the State of Honduras for not protecting environmental defenders in the country. On this occasion, the Inter-American Court declared international responsibility for having failed to comply with the duty to prevent the violation of the rights of the environmentalist Carlos Antonio Luna López, as well as for violating the personal integrity of his family.
Carlos Luna served as alderman in the municipality of Catacamas. At the beginning of 1998, after having publicly denounced several environmental crimes, he received death threats; Although the authorities knew of these threats, they did not take necessary measures to protect him, as a result, he was murdered in May of that same year.
In its verdict, the Inter-American Court considered that the State should increase efforts and use all available and pertinent resources to preserve the life of Carlos Luna, among other actions, through the granting of security measures and personal protection so that he could continue his work, as well as perform the necessary steps to investigate immediately and effectively all threats received. Since the due diligence was not acted upon, the Court noted that the obligation to guarantee the right to life of the environmentalist was not complied with.
In addition, due to the particular risk situation of environmental defenders in Honduras, the Inter-American Court ordered the adoption of a comprehensive public policy for their effective protection. Such policy must contemplate, among other things, sufficient human and financial resources to operate properly, and must be accompanied by the promotion of a culture of legitimization and protection of human rights defenders due to the important work they perform.
This measure is particularly important considering the previously mentioned risk context. In their report of December 2012, the Special Rapporteur of the United Nations on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, expressed concern about this issue and also recommended the State of Honduras to create a program to protect the group in a situation of vulnerability. However, the authorities still do not comply with what was recommended.
The Reflection, Investigation and Communication Team of the Society of Jesus (ERIC by its acronym in Spanish) and the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), representatives of the victims in this case, urge the Honduran authorities to comply with the ruling of the Inter-American Court, in particular, to implement as soon as possible the public policy described above in order to effectively protect human rights defenders in the country and allow them to continue carrying out their work free of fears and undue interference
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