PBI Honduras has published its fourth edition of their newsletter, reflecting on human rights and the work of defenders in the country throughout 2016. Last year was turbulent for human rights defenders (HRDs) in Honduras, marked by the murders of COPINH leaders Berta Cáceres and Nelson Noé García, as well as the murders of José Ángel Flores, president of the MUCA, and of community leader Silmer Dionisio George. Gladys Lanza and Magdalena Morales, both major Honduran women HRDs who fought tirelessly for women rights and land rights, also passed away last year of natural causes.
In this bulletin, PBI Honduras pays special tribute to these well-known HRDs, whose death leaves a huge void in Honduran civil society. At the same time, however, PBI Honduras looks ahead by focusing on the important work other HRDs and activists continue to pursue despite the tremendous risks they face on a daily basis, and introduces new organisations they began to support in 2016. In connection to this, a major discussion point revolves around the failure of the Honduran state to effectively implement the protection measures granted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which leaves activists in Honduras vulnerable to threats and criminalisation.
In terms of human rights legislation, this bulletin highlights two key initiatives. First, it introduces the proposed Honduran Law on Consultation of indigenous peoples, which seeks to bring indigenous populations into the decision-making processes of any measure that might affect them and their land. Secondly, PBI Honduras examines the debate around the major Penal Code reform, which activists have strongly criticized for not sufficiently taking into account the proposals of civil society organisations.
Crime and impunity for human rights abuses remain the norm in Honduras. It is evident that the international community and PBI continue to play a major role in ensuring respect for international human rights conventions and legal accountability. In the words of PBI Honduras: “We hope that 2017 brings freedom, security and respect for all.”