Persecution and resistance: The experience of human rights defenders in Guatemala and Honduras

Report
August 8, 2007

Persecution and resistance: The experience of human rights defenders in Guatemala and Honduras


In Honduras, efforts to improve protection for human rights defenders lack an institutional framework. Since the creation in 1992 of the Human Rights Ombudsman (Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos de Honduras, CONADEH), no fresh initiatives appear to have been developed. As the cases in this report show, while the Honduran government has followed the requests made by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to provide protection measures for human rights defenders at risk, these appear to be inadequately implemented in the majority of cases. The measures appear to have only a very limited impact on the lives of those defenders who face continuing risks. Moreover, as in the case of Guatemala, investigations into the threats and acts of intimidation against human rights defenders rarely produce results.

The failure of some governments to remove political or legal obstacles they claim impede the implementation of requests made by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for protection of individuals, including human rights defenders, is just one clear example of the contradiction between rhetoric and practice.

While structural problems and the lack of resources may be a constraint in pursuing improvements, in reality and as the previous and following cases illustrate, it is the absence of political will on the part of governments that allows the violations against human rights defenders to continue and impunity to prevail.