Press release / Aug. 11, 2020

Global Witness demands an urgent investigation into the disappearances of members of the Garífunas community in Honduras

The international organisation Global Witness expresses its concern for the members of the Garifuna community, now missing for over 20 days in Honduras. Numerous witnesses have confirmed that these members of the indigenous community of Triunfo de la Cruz were seized from their homes on 18th July. There is still no official information on their whereabouts.

“The violence seen here is a stark example of what happens when government policies fail to protect those indigenous communities that are standing up for their rights and the environment in the face of irresponsible business or other powerful interests. Sadly, we have seen the risks escalate globally as COVID-19 lockdowns leave land and environmental defenders exposed to attacks”, said Ben Leather, Senior Campaign for Global Witness.

In its latest report Defending Tomorrow, Global Witness reported that Honduras remains amongst the deadliest countries for land and environmental defenders in the world. The country had the highest rate of killings per capita, in a year that registered over 212 lethal attacks against activists that stand up for their land and our environment and lead the way in halting the ongoing climate crisis.

According to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the disappeared members of the community are part of The Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH by its acronym in Spanish), an organisation that works to defend the Garífuna Community and its territory.

“Indigenous communities are land and climate leaders. These attacks demonstrate how – instead of guaranteeing their rights – states are flagrantly failing to support those standing up for our planet”, added Leather.  

Many organisations have already raised the alarm bell about the severe consequences these disappearances may involve. Amnesty International called on the State to “carry out a swift, exhaustive, independent and impartial investigation to identify and punish all those responsible for planning and carrying out this crime”.

“Global Witness has worked with Garifuna leaders in Honduras for years and has long documented the violence they have faced for defending their rights, while the government has completely and consistently failed land and environmental defenders. We continue to stand in solidarity and demand protection and justice,” said Ben Leather.

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