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

August 8, 2007

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

American Convention on Human Rights "Pact of San José, Costa Rica" 25 May 1978 8 September 1977
Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights in the Area of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights "Protocol of San Salvador" 5 October 2000 N/A
Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture 29 January 1987 N/A
Inter-American Convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons 25 February 2000 11 July 2005
Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women "Convention of Belém Do Pará" 4 April 1995 12 July 1995

Persecution and resistance

The experience of human rights defenders in Guatemala and Honduras

Following the killing of a Honduran human rights lawyer on his way to a court hearing in December 2006, other lawyers and human rights defenders from the same organization received text messages warning them they risked a similar fate if they continued their work. Several weeks later, an attack on two environmentalists in Guatemala forced them to flee the country in fear for their lives.

Despite positive advances in the development of international human rights standards, reports of killings, attacks, death threats, harassment and intimidation against human rights defenders in Central America continue. Those responsible for these attacks are rarely identified and brought to justice.

Focusing on individual cases in Honduras and Guatemala, this report reveals some of the obstacles, dangers and challenges facing human rights defenders working to defend and promote the economic, social and cultural rights of some of the most marginalized civil society groups. It also points to the failure of the governments in question to live up to their obligation to ensure that these activists can carry out their important work free from attacks, fear or reprisals.

August 2007

AI Index: AMR 02/001/2007

(1) For more information see, Amnesty International, Human rights defenders at risk: Honduras: Montaña Verde Prisoners of Conscience, (AI Index: AMR 37/001/2006); Public Statement: Honduras: Amnesty International welcomes the release of Miranda Brothers, (AI Index: AMR 37/006/2006)

(2) For more information see, Public Statement: Honduras: Prisoner of conscience Feliciano Pineda released -- a first step towards justice (AI Index AMR 37/003/2006).

(3) In its Considerations of the report submitted by the government of Guatemala, the UN Committee against Torture noted an increase in reports of acts of harassment and persecution, including threats, killings and other human rights violations, experienced by human rights defenders, and expressed concern about the fact that such acts remain unpunished. For more information see: Consideration of Reports submitted by states parties under Article 19 of the Convention, Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee againstTorture, Guatemala, CAT/C/GTM/CO/4, 25July 2006, para 12.

(4) Amnesty International uses this term in anopen-ended and inclusive manner. However, this is in no way intended to ignore orchallenge the use of other terms appropriate inspecific countries or contexts.

(5) Report submitted by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General onhuman rights defenders to the Human Rights Council, A/HRC/4/37, 24 January 2007.