Honduras: IACHR orders protection for campesinos

On May 8 the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR, or CIDH in Spanish), the human rights agency of the Organization of American States (OAS), ordered a series of protective measures for 123 leaders of campesino movements struggling for land in the Lower Aguán River Valley in northern Honduras. The campesino organizations filed a request for the protection orders last October with the assistance of the North American nonprofit Rights Action, which reported that as of July 2013 a total of 104 campesinos had been killed since 2009 in ongoing disputes with large landowners in the region. In March of this year the CIDH asked the Honduran government for information on what steps it was taking to end the bloodshed; the government reportedly failed to respond. (Adital, Brazil, May 23)

The Honduran government came in for further criticism in the CIDH's annual country report, released in April. Despite some improvements in legislation, the CIDH found that as of the end of 2013 "a legislative framework persists which in practice creates situations of human rights violations, particularly for transsexual persons." Transsexuals, especially women, are at risk of abuse and arbitrary arrests by the police, regardless of whether they are engaged in sex work, according to the CIDH. The report also cited evidence from Honduran organizations of 112 violent deaths in the LGBT community from June 2008 to July 2013. (Proceso Digital, Honduras, May 17)

The CIDH has referred another issue to a related OAS agency, the Costa Rica-based Inter-American Court of Human Rights (CorteIDH). This is a legal case concerning the village of Triunfo de la Cruz near Tela in the northern department of Atlántida. The inhabitants are members of the Garífuna ethnicity, a group descended from Africans and from Arawak and Carib indigenous peoples. They say the government has refused to grant them land titles even though the village is on their ancestral land. The court heard testimony on May 20 from the government, the CIDH and Garífuna representatives, including village resident Angel Castro, who charged that a large part of his land had been sold off illegally. The parties to the dispute have one month to present written summations. (La Prensa, San Pedro Sula, May 20, from EFE)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, May 25.