Since the coup d’état took place in Honduras on 28 June 2009, PBI has followed with growing concern the serious deterioration of the space in which organizations, communities and human rights defenders can defend human rights in the country.
In response to a request for international accompaniment from the National Human Rights Platform of Honduras (Plataforma de Derechos Humanos de Honduras), PBI made a first visit to the country in May 2011 to verify the human rights situation. Subsequently, after a period of intensive analysis within the organization, PBI decided to evaluate the feasibility of opening an international accompaniment project in this country and, in the months of September and October 2012, carried out a second visit with this objective.
We met with journalists, judges, workers from human rights organisations, indigenous and small-farmers movements, women’s organizations and trade unions. The committed women and men we spoke with talked about the danger and grave threats they face. We published a report on the situation for human rights defenders in Honduras, based on our work in 2012, opened a protective accompaniment project in the country in 2013.
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Since 2009, there have been 174 violent deaths in the LGBTQ community. This violence is directly related to the prejudice and discrimination that the LGBTQ community has suffered historically in the country. Honduras has become, along with Guatemala and El Salvador, one of the most dangerous countries for this community to live.
We accompany the Arcoíris Association. Founded on August 1, 2013, the organization aims to empower and inform the the LGBTQ communities of Tegucigalpa and Comayaguela with respect to questions of holistic health, defense and promotion of human rights, advocacy, research, and dissemination. Arcoíris' programs are directed towards lesbian and bisexual women, gay and bisexual men, trans men and women, and also towards the heterosexual population with the goal of raising awareness and reducing the societal stigmatization of LGBTQ persons. Arcoíris works to raise awareness and train workers in health centers, schools, parent groups, etc. They also research the diverse problems facing the Honduran LGBTQ community: hate crimes, migration, and the situation of LGBTQ persons in exile, and behaviors and practices related to HIV/AIDS.
Arcoíris forms part of the Sexual Diversity Committee of Honduras, a space for analysis, reflection, and political decision making for sexual diversity organizations in Honduras. Donny Reyes, coordinator of Arcoíris, currently serves as one of two representatives of Honduran civil society organizations in the National Council for Protection of Human Rights. Said Council was formed as part of the passage of the Law for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, Social Communicators, Journalists, and Justice Operators.
Freedom of Expression
Honduras is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists. According to the IACHR 28 journalists have been killed in Honduras since 2010.
We accompany Dina Meza, a well-known Honduran independent journalist and defender of the right to information and freedom of expression. She works to investigate and denoounce human rights violations in cases such as those of protesting students and other violations of the right to freedom of expression. Meza currently serves as the president of PEN Honduras, and manages the online news magazine Pasos de Animal Grande.
In 2007, Meza recieved Amnesty International UK's special award for at-risk journalists, and in 2014, Meza received the Oxfam Novib/PEN International Freedom of Expression Award. Her work as a journalist and human rights defender has resulted in persecution and multiple threats directed towards both Meza herself and towards her family. Since May 2014, PBI has accompanied Meza in a context of sustained violence against Honduran journalists.
Defending land rights, culture, and natural resources
Between 2002 and March 2014 111 land and environmental rights activists were murdered in Honduras, making it the most dangerous country in the world to be a land rights defender.
We accompany CEHPRODEC (the Honduran Center for the Promotion of Community Development). CEHPRODEC was founded in 1991. The central focus of its work is the right to food security in connection with economic, social, and cultural rights (ESCR). CEHPRODEC provides legal and technical accompaniment to rural and indigenous communities who defend their land. The organization offers support in the form of training, organizing, and promoting and protecting human rights with the objective of guaranteeing the rights of communities affected by hidroelectric and extractivist projects. In the legal defense department, CEHPRODEC manages the cases of indigenous and rural peoples who are criminalized for working to defend their lands and territories. CEHPRODEC is currently present in 10 of the 18 departments of Honduras, and the organization also coordinates the National Coalition of Environmental Networks (CONROA).
Since May 2014, PBI has accompanied CEHPRODEC in its various projects with rural and indigenous communities that find themselves at risk due to their defense of their territories.
We accompany COPINH (the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras). Founded in 1993, COPINH is a political and social indigenous non-profit organization. It represents the grassroots movement in the department of Intibucá, the struggle in defense of the environment, and the preservation of the Lencan culture. Their goal is to facilitate the recognition of the political, social, cultural, and economic rights of Lencan communities and campesinos in Honduras, thus propelling an improvement in living conditions
While COPINH works directly with communities in the southwest region of Honduras to protect their rights to land, water, and life, their sphere of influence is national. Furthermore, it plays many roles throughout the continent of Central América, for example: Red Latinoamericana Contra Represas (REDLAR), Articulación Continental de los Movimientos Sociales Hacia el ALBA, Grito de los Excluidos/as Continental, and COMPA.
PBI Honduras has accompanied the coordinating team of COPINH since April 2016, after the March 2016 assassination of figurehead Berta Cáceres. The organization works in an atmosphere of sustained violence, and continues to suffer threats, intimidation, assassination attempts, detentions, and defamations because of the work that they do defending human rights.