Murders turn Honduras into 'no-go zone' for environmental campaigners

The brutal murders of two land rights campaigners in Honduras last night are the latest in a seemingly unstoppable wave of deadly attacks turning Honduras into a no-go zone for human rights activists, said Amnesty International.

José Angel Flores, 64, President of the Movimiento Unificado Campesino, was shot dead by a group of unidentified men in the department of Colón, northern Honduras, yesterday afternoon. Another community leader, Silmer Dionisio George, was also shot in the incident and died in hospital hours later.

Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International, said:

“Honduras has turned into a ‘no-go zone’ for anyone daring to campaign for the protection of the environment. How many more activists have to be brutally murdered before the authorities take effective action to protect them, or even be willing to talk about this crisis?

“The authorities in Honduras must take immediate action to effectively protect those who work to promote and defend the basic human rights of all in the country. Anything less will only put more brave human rights defenders in mortal danger.”

José Angel Flores had reported threats in relation to his human rights work. In 2014, he had been granted ‘precautionary measures’ from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights requesting the state to provide him with protection.

The murders of José Angel and Silmer come amid a wave of threats against their community and are the latest in a series of killings of human rights activists, including that of indigenous leader Berta Cáceres, who was shot dead in March this year.

The lack of exhaustive investigations into the attacks and threats against activists, as well as the unwillingness of the authorities to implement effective measures to protect them, are fueling the increasing violence.

Last week, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández declined a meeting with Amnesty’s Secretary General Salil Shetty to discuss the human rights crisis in the country, including the increase in attacks.

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