Killings of human rights defenders in Honduras increased fourfold between 2018 and 2019, in a country where impunity is rampant. Those at particular risk include journalists, land and environmental rights defenders, and LGBT+ activists.
The ten-year anniversary of the June 2009 coup d’état intensified the simmering political crisis with nationwide protests erupting in April and continuing through the year. The decade since the coup have witnessed increased poverty, violence from drug cartels and the Honduran state, widespread human rights violations, and refugees fleeing the country. Protests against the President highlighting issues around education and health reform were met by security forces utilising excessive force, teargas, and live bullets, leaving at least nine protesters dead in 2019.
In October 2019 the president's brother was tried in a drugs trafficking and money laundering case in a court in New York. Prosecutors implicated the Honduran president in the case, accusing him of receiving a $1 million bribe from “El Chapo”. A potential witness was murdered in jail days after the trial and the video of his killing was posted online, likely to deter others from testifying in US court.
Defenders of land and environmental rights have been faced with an increasingly hostile political and legal climate in Honduras since 2018, when a new law was passed severely limiting the right of indigenous peoples to informed consultation on new extractive projects. Hundreds of Indigenous Maya Chorti, Lenca, Pech, Miskito, Tolupan and Garifuna in Honduras marched from south Tegucigalpa to the National Congress to protest it. Its second article grants the Honduran government the right to ignore the outcome of any consultation and continue with the project. This reflects a broader hostility towards environmental activism in the country.
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 organisations, 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 organisation, 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 organisations 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.
Who we protect in Honduras
Since 2009, there have been 174 violent deaths in the LGTBI community. This violence is directly related to the prejudice and discrimination that the LGBTI 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.
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.
Women Human Rights Defenders
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.
Read the full report here.